Added Bonus from Seasonal Flu Shots?
If you've gotten or plan to get the regular seasonal flu shot this year, there may be an added bonus: It may also provide some protection against the new H1N1 virus that is causing the swine flu pandemic.
Jose Luis Valdespino-Gomez of the Biological Laboratories Reagents of Mexico and other researchers studied 60 patients who were infected with the H1N1 virus during the initial outbreak in that country last spring. Compared with 180 patients who were hospitalized in Mexico City for other conditions,
those who were not infected with the H1N1 virus were significantly more likely to have received the regular seasonal flu vaccine, the researchers report in the British Medical Journal.
The researchers caution that the findings are preliminary and that more studies are needed to confirm that the seasonal vaccine provides some protection. But they said the research sugests that the seasonal vaccine may boost existing antibodies in people who had previously been exposed to similar flu viruses, either by being infected or vaccinated.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Menno de Jon from the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam cautions that the findings do not mean people who received the seasonal flu vaccine do not need the H1N1 vaccine. They should get both, he stresses. But the findings do suggest that in countries where supplies of the H1N1 vaccine are short or unavailable, some people may at least derive some protection from the seasonal vaccine, he says.
There was one report out of Canada suggesting that people who received the seasonal vaccine might be more prone to getting the H1N1 swine flu virus. But health authorities in the United States and the World Health Organization say they have not seen any other evidence to support that fear.
October 8, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , Influenza , Vaccinations
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