H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine

October 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Starting Monday the "H1N1 swine flu" vaccine will be sent to health departments from the federal government. California is expected to get about 350,000 doses in the first round of shipments.The FDA has approved the first vaccines to ward off the swine flu, and the doses are being distributed across the country this month. Health experts say one shot could be enough to protect yourself, and if 70 percent of the population gets vaccinated, we could control the outbreak. We have more on how the vaccine was made and whether or not you need to get it.

Matt McIntosh loved playing drums in his band. His older sister Mindy was his biggest fan.

"They were just very close," mom Katrina McIntosh told Ivanhoe. "One was always with the other one."

This summer, both came down with flu-like symptoms. In 10 days, Matt was dead. Mindy died three weeks later. Both had H1N1.

"My kids were perfectly healthy," Katrina said. "They had no underlying health problems whatsoever."

Cases like this have health officials racing against the clock to protect the public. The government has ordered 195 million doses of the swine flu vaccine. Trials in adults went well, and doctors are now testing safety and dosage guidelines in kids.

"This is a big rush," David Bernstein, M.D., director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, told Ivanhoe. "The epidemic could begin at any time."

How is the vaccine made? Scientists inject a version of the H1N1 virus into millions of eggs. There, the virus multiplies. Researchers inactivate the virus and pull out individual proteins. Those proteins, along with other ingredients, make up the vaccine.

"We were almost overwhelmed with the number of people that wanted to help and wanted to be in the trials," Dr. Bernstein said.

Who should get the shot? Pregnant women, kids from 6 months old to 24 years old, and adults who have diabetes, asthma, or chronic lung or heart disease. "I think we're doing all we can do given the time constraints," Dr. Bernstein said. "It just may not be enough."

There wasn't enough time for the McIntosh's.

"You know how people think, that can't happen to me? Well, that's what I thought," Katrina said.

A mother who hopes her heartbreak prompts others to protect themselves from the flu.

Experts recommend if you are allergic to eggs, avoid the H1N1 vaccine. So far, the shot has been safely tested on 3,100 healthy adults, 240 pregnant women and 1,200 kids. Health officials still recommend getting seasonal flu shots as the H1N1 vaccine won't protect against both strains.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Centers for Disease Control
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu
http://www.clinicaltrials.gov

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