Q&A: Who should receive the swine flu vaccine?
I've heard that doctors are recommending that certain groups be prioritized for the swine flu vaccine. Who should and who should not be vaccinated?
By now, most of us are aware of the current threat of the H1N1 flu. We are exposed to some type of flu each flu season; however, this strain is different than others and may lead to a more severe illness because our immune systems have not had any contact with this strain before. Thus, we have not developed the proper immunities to swine flu.
Each year, researchers gather to discuss and predict which strains of flu are most likely to crop up the next flu season. With these strains in mind, a seasonal flu vaccine is made by drug companies and administered to those who desire protection.
Vaccines are designed to help our immune systems by arming us with immunities before an active germ invades our bodies. A vaccine is an injection of “inactivated” or “killed” germs which prompts the build-up of antibodies to offer protection against viruses. Some vaccines may be administered in a “weakened” state, meaning they are not fully inactivated.
Who Should be Vaccinated
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the following groups should be a priority for receiving the H1N1 vaccine:
- Pregnant women
- People between six months of age and 24 years of age
- Caretakers of babies younger than six months
- Healthcare employees
- People who have underlying medical conditions that may put them at higher risk for flu-related complications
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
The CDC notes that the following groups should not receive a vaccination until a doctor is consulted:
- Babies under six months
- Those with chicken egg allergies
- Those who have had severe reactions to previous flu vaccines (including people who have developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting a prior vaccination)
- Those suffering from illnesses and fever (They should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)