What is the H1N1 flu vaccine?
It is a vaccine that was developed to protect against the strain of influenza that initiated the global pandemic earlier this year.
Who should get the H1N1 flu vaccine?
Adults and children 6 months and older should get vaccinated to protect themselves, especially for people who may be at risk for complications from the flu and those who have close contact with them. The vaccine is available to all Canadians who want to be vaccinated.
However, since not everyone can be vaccinated at the same time, the Public Health Agency of Canada has recommended a prioritization order for people to receive the vaccine. It is up to each province and territory to decide which group of people will be vaccinated first, so check with your doctor or local public health unit for more information.
There are some people who should not receive the H1N1 flu vaccine. Check with your doctor before receiving the vaccine if you:
- have a serious egg allergy
- developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within 8 weeks of getting any influenza vaccine
- have had a previous serious allergic reaction to any of the components of the vaccine
- have a high fever
How safe is the H1N1 flu vaccine?
Health Canada does not approve a vaccine for use until it has reviewed the vaccine's safety and effectiveness. Studies from several countries around the world have shown to be safe and effective in protecting against the H1N1 flu virus.
Is the H1N1 flu vaccine effective?
Clinical trials show that the vaccine is effective. 85% to 98% of healthy adults vaccinated with the vaccine will be protected against the H1N1 flu virus.
Does the H1N1 flu vaccine contain thimerosal?
Yes. The current H1N1 flu vaccine contains a small amount of the preservative thimerosal.
Are there two different types of H1N1 flu vaccine?
Yes, there are two different types of the H1N1 flu vaccine that is available for people. One contains an adjuvant and one does not. An adjuvant is a substance that is added to a vaccine to boost a person's immune system and their response to a vaccine. An unadjuvanted vaccine does not contain this substance. Studies show that the adjuvant being used in the H1N1 flu vaccine is safe. Pregnant women, however, should receive the unadjuvanted vaccine because there is no safety data on using the adjuvanted vaccine in pregnant women.
Do I still need the seasonal flu shot if I get the H1N1 flu vaccine?
Yes. The H1N1 flu vaccine does not protect against the virus strains that cause the seasonal flu, and the seasonal flu shot does not protect against the strain of H1N1 flu virus responsible for the current pandemic. The order in which you receive the two vaccines may be different, depending on where you live, your medical history, and your age. Check with your doctor or local public health unit for more information.