Thursday, December 24, 2009

H1N1 shot made my son vomit, but GO GET THAT SHOT

This post now a Google News Link and posted on

Photo by Sally Kneidel, PhD

Poor lad
Yesterday, my son and I went to get H1N1 shots at our local health department.  We didn't have to wait more than five minutes, and the shot didn't hurt more than just the needle stick. But as we walked out to the car, my son (in his early 20s) said he felt sick.  We got in the car, and before we were even out of the parking lot, he told me to pull over.  He jumped out and vomited two or three times on the grass.

When we got home he vomited again, went to bed and slept for 4 hours. When he got up he still felt sick and had a bad headache.  But the sheet we'd been given at the health department said that both "nausea" and "headache" were "mild problems" that might occur after the injection.  More serious reactions would be wheezing, hives, rapid pulse, paleness, difficulty breathing - symptoms that indicate an allergic reaction.  He had none of those.  About 7 p.m. he got off the sofa, took two Tylenol, and then took a long hot shower. After that, he felt fine.  Today he's fine, and I'm fine too.

Get that shot
I'm not writing this to discourage anyone from getting a shot.  I'm glad we got our shots, and my son is too.  My point in writing this post is actually to urge everyone to get H1N1 shots now, because the CDC continues to say that the more vaccinations are given to the public, the lower the chance we will have a dangerous third wave of H1N1 later this winter.

The latest news on H1N1 from the CDC
Yesterday, Dec 22, the Centers for Disease Control gave another of their weekly press conferences on the status of H1N1.  I studied all 8 pages; below I've summarized the main points.

In the U.S., the good news about H1N1 is two-fold:
  • Less virus is circulating.
  • The vaccine is more readily available than it has been. But, the current map provided by the CDC shows that the virus is still widespread in 11 states and regionally widespread in 20 more states.
About 60 million of the 307 million people in the U.S.have been vaccinated for H1N1 thus far.  Of those, two-thirds have been children.  About half the unvaccinated people in the U.S. who have been recently polled indicate that they want to be vaccinated.  Just a month ago, interest in vaccination was higher, at 60%.  Interest in vaccination is waning because the number of cases in the current wave of infection has been declining.

The waning interest is unfortunate, say the doctors at the CDC.  Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC led Tuesday's press conference, and she urged against public complaisance.  She said whether or not the U.S. experiences a third and perhaps more virulent wave of the H1N1 flu after December depends in part on how many people get vaccinated in the next few weeks. "Getting vaccinated will reduce the chance of your getting sick and reduce the chance of the country going through a third wave," said Dr. Schuchat.

Who is most vulnerable to hospitalization with H1N1?
Schuchat was asked during the press conference, what pre-existing health conditions make patients more vulnerable to serious illness with H1N1? The most serious cases are generally those that develop into pneumonia.

She answered that H1N1 patients are more likely to be hospitalized if they have these pre-existing conditions:
  • asthma
  • chronic lung disease
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • chronic heart disease
  • pregnancy
She said any pregnant woman who has respiratory symptoms should be seen by a doctor and treated.

Virtually all the cases of flu in the U.S. at this time are H1N1, said Schuchat.  "Everything we're seeing in terms of the flu strains is the H1N1 virus and so it's not gone at all. None of us know what the weeks and months ahead will bring in terms of influenza activity."

How to find the vaccines for H1N1 and seasonal influenzas
For those who are interested in the seasonal flu vaccine, Schuchat said, "there's a little bit of seasonal flu vaccine around.  It will be spotty place to place....the vast majority has already been used."  She recommended checking with your doctor or pharmacy.

As for locating the vaccine for H1N1, Schuchat said about 2/3 of the states have carried out school vaccination programs.  As of Dec 22, 111 million doses of H1N1 vaccine have become available for order by states. This vaccine is available through doctors' offices, hospitals, and health departments.

Schuchat said emphatically that children under the age of 10 need two doses of the H1N1 shot, a month apart. Five or six weeks apart is okay, she said.

Dr. Schuchat said it's true that some household pets - cats and dogs - have contracted H1N1. But she said "the rare occurrances of this virus in other species is not a general problem."

My own comments about H1N1 in animals
It's my understanding that hogs having the virus is a potential problem, because a single hog can simultaneously have two or more types of viruses that also infect people. If a particular hog has more than one type of virus, the different viruses can exchange genetic material within the hog's cells, and make recombinant forms of virus which may be more virulent (more infective, more dangerous) than either of the contributing viruses.  This is why hogs are sometimes called "mixing vessels" in discussions of avian and swine flu viruses. It's believed that hogs have been an essential component in the development of avian and swine flus that have or may in the future cause widespread infections.  Birds are called "trojan horses" in virology, carrying viruses far afield, and as I said, hogs are called "mixing vessels."

So if your hogs get H1N1....well, I don't know what to tell you.  Let's hope they don't.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Wenjun Ma et al. "The hog as a mixing vessel for influenza viruses: human and veterinary implications." J. Mol. Genet. Med. 2009.

My previous posts about Smithfield and the swine flu:
H1N1 is a swine flu and has its roots NC, the land of Smithfield  May 2, 2009

Smithfield blamed for swine flu by Mexican press   April 29, 2009

My previous posts about H1N1:
H1N1 widespread but declining. Experts disagree about a third wave of H1N1 this winter.  12/02/2009

Second wave of H1N1 declining in numbers but not severity. Third wave may be the worst  11/18/09

The most dangerous cases of H1N1  11/12/2009

My daughter says elderberry got rid of her H1N1  10/22/2009

Why is swine flu likely to return in winter? It's not because we're cooped up together in winter  5/8/2009

Keywords:: H1N1 swine flu hogs mixing vessels trojan horses avian flu vaccinations

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