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Swine Flu

Flu season is upon us, but this year we also have to contend with Swine flu (H1N1).  Whether you want to admit it or not, everyone is just a little bit concerned about it.  As someone who has a compromised immune system, I thought I would let you know the answers to my questions.

I have Crohn’s disease and did not want to get a flue shot if it contained a live virus. The “flu shot” is an inactive vaccine (containing killed virus) given with a needle in the arm.  It is approved for use in people older than 6 months and is the best form for those with a chronic medical condition such as asthma or heart disease or for someone who is pregnant.  The nasal spray is a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses.  This form is approved for use in healthy people 2 to 49 years of age.  As my immune system is compromised I choose the flu shot with the inactive virus as my system would not tolerate a live virus.  I would not be able to fight off the flue as easily as a healthy person if I were to get it.

One of the concerns of those who are actively vocal against the flu vaccine is the thought that it contains mercury.  Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that is used in some influenza vaccines to keep them free from contamination of microorganisms.  Various vaccine manufacturers are producing some of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine in single-dose units which do not require the use of thimerosal.  Some vaccine will come in multi-dose vials and will contain thimerosal as a preservative.   The nasal spray is produced in single-units and will not contain thimerosal.   If mercury is an issue for you, check with your local health care provider to see how your vaccine was manufactured.

Administration of the flu shot has come to Southwest Florida and I was one of the first in line.  I do not regret my decision, no matter what anyone else has to say.  I really do not want to get the flu and will do whatever I need to in order to keep it that way.

What was your decision on getting the flu shot?

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