The FDA approved four versions of the pandemic H1N1 (or “swine” flu) vaccine. According to Dr. Sears, author of The Vaccine Book, here is the run down on each of these four vaccines:
Sanofi Pasteur’s injected vaccine: Approved for ALL age groups (infants 6 months of age through adulthood and the elderly). It comes in several forms:
Prefilled single ½ dose syringe with NO mercury – for infants 6 thru 35 months of age. Prefilled single full dose syringe with NO mercury – for anyone 3 years and older.
Single-dose (full-dose) vial with NO mercury – for anyone 3 years and older.
Multidose bottle (contains ten full doses or twenty ½ doses) WITH 25 mcg of mercury per full dose
– for anyone 6 months and older (infants 6 to 35 months would get a
half dose (0.25 ml), 3 years and older would get the full 0.5 ml dose).
Other ingredients include: the viral proteins, egg proteins, gelatin, formaldehyde, polyethylene glycol p-isooctyphenyl ether, sucrose.
CSL’s injected vaccine: Approved for anyone 18 years and older. It comes in two forms:
Prefilled single-dose syringe with NO mercury.
Multidose bottle with ten doses WITH 24.5 mcg of mercury per dose.
Other ingredients include: the viral proteins, sodium chloride, sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, calcium, taurodeoxycholate, egg protein, 2 antibiotics, and beta-propiolactone.
Novartis’s injected vaccine: Approved for anyone 4 years and older. It comes in two forms:
Prefilled single-dose syringes with a trace amount of mercury (less than 1 mcg because 99% of it is filtered out).
Multidose bottle with ten doses WITH 25 mcg of mercury per dose.
Other ingredients include: the viral proteins, sodium chloride, phosphate, egg proteins, two antibiotics, betapropiolactone, nonylphenol ethoxylate.
MedImmune’s live virus nasal spray vaccine: Approved for anyone 2 years through 49 years of age. There is no mercury.
Other ingredients include: the live viruses, egg protein, MSG, pig gelatin, arginine, sucrose, potassium phosphate, an antibiotic
How many doses are needed?
According to Dr. Sears,
all infants and children from 6 months through 9 years of age are
supposed to get two doses of this vaccine, one month apart (no matter
what brand you are using, and you probably shouldn’t switch brands
between the two doses). This is needed to generate an adequate immune response. Anyone who is 10 years and older only needs ONE dose.
Can doses be given along with other vaccines?
According to Dr. Sears, the product inserts make it very clear that no testing
has yet been done on these versions of the flu vaccine to determine if
they can be given along with other vaccines. The government is
operating under the assumption that these vaccines should behave the
same way as their regular seasonal flu vaccine counterparts.
According to Dr. Sears, technically you can get them together (both flu shots together) or with any other vaccine. But Dr. Sears’ advice? Get them alone, as far apart as you can from another flu shot or any other shots. More on this below.
What safety and efficacy testing has been done on these vaccines?
According to Dr. Sears, the product inserts make it very clear that the “swine” flu versions of these vaccines have not undergone
any testing to demonstrate whether or not they are safe and whether or
not they even work. They are relying on the fact that they are so
similar to the regular flu shots that they should work just as well.
What about pregnant and/or nursing mothers?
The flu shots are already recommended for pregnant and nursing moms, BUT (and this is a really huge but), according to Dr. Sears, the
vaccine product inserts make it very clear that the regular flu
vaccines have never been tested on pregnant or nursing women to determine if there is any harm to fetuses or young babies (with one exception – the Flumist nasal spray brand did have some testing in this area, BUT not enough, as is stated in the product insert).
Dr. Sears advises: if you do get a flu shot, make sure it is mercury free (or at least only trace mercury).
What should I get first, regular or swine flu shots, and how do I space them out?
Dr. Sears’ basic advice for anyone is
to only get one flu shot at a time, spaced out one month apart. So, it
would take 3 months to work in all four doses (2 regular flu and 2
to the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Sears, the seasonal flu
causes about 20 infant and 100 total pediatric deaths each year in the
U.S. The swine flu has so far caused 112 pediatric deaths. So, that’s
about the same as the regular flu. From April through the end of July,
there were about 43,000 confirmed swine flu cases, with 5000
hospitalizations and about 300 deaths in all ages according to the CDC website.
What about other routine childhood vaccines that are also needed during this time?
Dr. Sears advises parents
to delay any vaccines for diseases that don’t pose an immediate danger
to a baby’s or child’s life and catch up on those vaccines in Feb or
March, a couple months after finishing the flu vaccines. Diseases that
aren’t usually life-threatening (keeping in mind that ANY disease can
be fatal, but the following are less likely to be) include measles,
chickenpox, and Hep A. Diseases that don’t exist in the U.S. or that
don’t occur during infancy in the U.S. (so even though they can be very
severe, a child has almost no risk of catching it in the U.S.) that
could be safely delayed are polio, Hep B, tetanus, and diphtheria (although to get a pertussis vaccine, tetanus and diphtheria have to come along with it).
Diseases that do pose an immediate danger to babies and children are HIB and PC meningitis, Rotavitus, and Pertussis.
So, Dr. Sears would rather children stay on time with those four
vaccines and delay the flu shots (if you feel comfortable delaying flu
you want to make sure your child has flu coverage and stays up to date
on these other shots, you can stagger them by two weeks.
For teens, Dr. Sears would follow the same guidelines – don’t get flu shot around any of the other routine teen shots like HPV,
meningococcal, or Tdap. The only disease here that would be more severe
than flu would be meningococcal, so that’s more of a priority.
For more information on ingredients contained in the H1N1 vaccine, please visit the FDA’s site.
For more information about vaccines and candid insight and information from Dr. Sears, please visit Ask Dr. Sears
Should your family experience complications from vaccines, you can file a report at www.vaers.hhs.gov.