This fall flu season is going to be quite different than previous ones in the past, so get ready to possibly feel the sting 3 times. The majority of people should get one shot for the usual seasonal flu and two more to help protect against the swine flu.
If you are lucky enough to find it – experts are saying that you should get your first shot this month.
There are five vaccine manufacturers which supply the U.S. and they are finishing their seasonal flu vaccine earlier than normal. Health officials are expecting around half of the more than 120 million doses of seasonal vaccine to be ready by the end of August. The rest should be out by the end of September. There are some manufacturers claiming that distributors are rapidly buying supplies.
These five companies are the same ones that are making the new swine flu vaccine. One of them makes a nasal spray version. They should begin dropping off the first batches in September, although most of it won’t be expected until the end of October or November, according to health officials.
Scientists think the swine flu vaccine will be the most successful against the swine flu if it is given in two doses, about three weeks apart. Testing is still being done to determine this.
Although it is too late to do it this year, combining the swine flu and seasonal flu into one shot is possible. Last winter decisions were made concerning what flu strains to use in this year’s seasonal vaccine ,and production was too advanced when the swine flu hit to change the formula. This is the reason that multiple shots will be needed.
Unfortunately supplies will be limited, so the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created two different lists for the first to get the seasonal flu shot and the first to get the swine flu shot. Elderly people, health care workers and pregnant women are the first on the regular flu vaccine list. For the swine flu vaccine, the first in line will be health care workers and pregnant people. Older people are not on the first on this list, because they seem to have some immunity to the swine flu. Because of this discrepancy, some confusion is expected.
Scientists are just now starting to test the safety and effectiveness of the new swine flu vaccine. This is expected to take several months. The government is planning on the vaccines to be given with three shots, over three separate visits. If the seasonal and swine flu vaccines were given at the same time, it would be too difficult to determine which vaccine was to blame, if people developed health problems after receiving their shot.
The recommended three shots is a concern to the government because the public has not been very diligent about getting just one flu shot. Last year, just one in three U.S. adults got their flu shots according to CDC data.
The autumn vaccine campaign against seasonal flu is usually starts in late September or October with a news conference, but this year it has been set for September 10. Some health officials are saying that the push for seasonal vaccinations will begin even sooner. Carol Schriber, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, says that “as soon as it becomes available, we’ll be encouraging people to get it.”