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Amber J. Tresca

Will You Get the H1N1 Flu Vaccine?

By August 24, 2009

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The CDC is reporting that 45 million doses of the H1N1 ("swine flu") flu vaccine will be available in early October, with more available in late October, and total fulfillment of 145 million doses ready by December. This is falling short of the goal of 120 million doses that they'd hoped to provide by October 15. If the H1N1 virus makes a significant reappearance in September, high risk individuals may not be vaccinated, and the demand may exceed the supply.

It's generally recommended that people with chronic conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) get vaccinated for the seasonal flu. The seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against the H1N1 virus, but both vaccinations can be given at the same time. It's likely that the H1N1 vaccine will also be recommended for people who have IBD.

When the H1N1 vaccine is available, will you get it? After you vote in the poll, click on "Comments" below and tell me why or why not.

August 31, 2009 at 1:04 am
(1) Steve says:

I’ve had Crohn’s for a couple years. I’ve been on Remicade for 8 months or so, and it’s working quite well. The last time I saw my doctor, he recommended that I don’t get the H1N1 vaccine when it comes out at this point. I believe his reasoning was that the vaccine will be a bit too powerful for people on immune suppressing drugs.

Does anyone here know anything about this? I’d be curious to find out if there will be more development on the vaccine, to the point that it would be more safe for folks on drugs like ours.

(Disclaimer – I have no medical background, so definitely don’t take what I say here as advice to not get the vaccine. I’m just saying what I remember of what my doctor said, and I may not remember everything accurately.)

August 31, 2009 at 8:10 am
(2) Jeanne says:

My doctor also does not reccommend that I take either flu shot for the same reason stated above. I am on Pentasa and a host of other drugs that are keeping me flare-up free so far.

I also believe that in the rush to try to come up with a vaccine that certain safety protocols are being ignored. The British have been issuing warnings over the last several months about the dangers of this new vaccine and we here in the states seem to be ignoring that information.

My immune system is damaged enough as it is, I do not believe I need to add to the problem by getting vaccinated.

Also to think about, there is little if any evidence to support the claim that flu vaccines even work at all. I have never gotten a flu vaccine and yet I rarely contract the flu. Only once in the last 5 years, while co-workers of mine religiously get the vaccine and also seem to contract the flu regularly. And I am supposed to be the sick one?!

August 31, 2009 at 12:38 pm
(3) Lari says:

I live with UC (pancolitis) and have gotten a flu shot every year since I was diagnosed in 1998. I believe that with a compromised immune system, there is a higher risk of not being able to combat the disease itself should I get it. I prefer to take my chances with both the regular and H1N1 flu shots this fall in hopes of staying healthy.

August 31, 2009 at 1:05 pm
(4) Cynthia says:

My daughter age 6, was diagnosed with pancolitis one month after receiving her first flu shot at the age of 4. Needless to say, she will never receive another flu shot of any kind. I truly believe that someone genetically predisposed to UC and other autoimmune diseases, are at risk for these vaccines to trigger flares or the actual disease. My daughter had a severe flare one month after receiving her 5 yr. old MMR vaccine as well. Everyone has their own beliefs and let them do what they wish, but personally, keeping my daughter as healthy as possible with foods, supplements, and her UC drugs, we will take our risks without Flu vaccines. P.S. Isn’t it funny how they(the drug companies), always miss the flu strain that makes people sick the year that they get the shot?

August 31, 2009 at 3:13 pm
(5) Kat says:

I have Fibromyalgia but talked to my DR regarding the H1N1. He is taking a “Wait and see attitude” He said that if we remember the experience of the mid 1970′s more people died from the Swine Flu vaccine than the actual virus. The reason is that for one, we don’t know much about this vaccine or it’s effectiveness in relation to how the virus may mutate. Secondly, there are ingredients that help to deliver the vaccine into the the body( not the same type as the seasonal vaccine) that can have life threatening side effects, such as several hours after having the shot your breathing becomes paralyzed and you must make it to a hospital in time and placed on a breathing machine in order to live. Sounds to me, just like in the 70′s the risks may out weigh the gains. I know I don’t want to be the first trial of subjects to get the shot until we see how it will perform.

August 31, 2009 at 9:16 pm
(6) Armywivesrok says:

My teenage daughter and college age son have been diagnosed with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis respectively. Both are on Remicade and both are on prednisone and azathioprine. My daughter’s doctor also recommended against her getting the flu vaccine (or taking tamiflu). I am worried and am tempted to keep her home. I’d keep my son home, too, but he attends college far away from where we live. My daughter’s doctor said it can be harmful to patients taking prednisone to get the flu vaccine.

September 2, 2009 at 9:46 am
(7) Sarah says:

My doctor is recommending that I get both the regular flu shot and the H1N1 virus shot. I was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s and am on Azathioprine. I can’t remember the last time I had the flu, but am worried that now that I’m on an immunosuppressant, I’ll start catching what makes everyone else sick normally.

September 30, 2009 at 9:45 pm
(8) Barbara says:

I have two sons and my husband is a GI doc, he says get regular flu shot and wait to see what H1N1 warnings will be. Immunosuppressed may not work well with live virus vaccine. Both sons on Remicade.

October 7, 2009 at 11:04 am
(9) chieko says:

Never have, never will…any flu vaccine. I haven’t had the flu in 30 years. I just practice good hygiene like a lot handwashing and not touching my nose, eyes, or mouth, etc.

October 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm
(10) Diane says:

I’ve got crohn’s and have had a flu shot every year for more than 10 years. The thing I cant have is the nasal form–that’s the live vaccine.

I’m on Humira, the ‘new’ Remicade. No live vaccines allowed. but the shot is ok, and I will get the H1N1 when it’s availalbe

October 26, 2009 at 2:22 pm
(11) Kimberly says:

My 11yrs has Crohn’s. He is on Methothexate and his Specialist recommended the entire family get the H1N1 vaccine and the flu shot. We are all getting it this Wednesday.

October 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm
(12) Teresa Woods says:

I have Crohn’s Disease and I’m on Remicade and Imuran. I am in college (nursing program) and had to get the Hep B vaccines before starting clinicals. My doctor did a lot of research on those on TNF drugs (Remicade) and stated in no uncertain terms that I should NOT get any vaccine containing a live virus. I am leery of vaccines anyway, and have never had flu shots. Although I’ve gotten very ill with Crohn’s, I usually do not have a tendency to get colds or the flu. I would definitely talk to your gastro doctor before taking any vaccine. Wear a mask when in public, wash your hands, avoid contact, etc., eat healthy, get your sleep and reduce your stress. Laugh. It’s great medicine and boosts your immune system.

October 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm
(13) Nicole says:

I have Ulcerative Colitis and in the past have received vaccines for Hep A/B (Twinrix), MMR, Typhoid etc. As long as you get INNACTIVATED (dead strain) vaccines you will be fine. Do not get activated (live strain) vaccines such as Yellow Fever. Some people experience a flare up after the innactivated vaccines (I did as well) because the vaccine causes an immunity reaction to then ‘disease proof’ your body against whatever you got vaccinated for. The flare up is temporary and goes away in a few days. The whole point of immunosuppressive drugs is to keep the immune system at bay so of course getting a vaccine will temporarily get your system going but that’s better than not getting vaccinated and ending up with the disease!

October 28, 2009 at 5:08 pm
(14) Bryan says:

I am on 150mg of Imuran and Remicade every 8 weeks. My GI recommended flu and H1N1 injection (not nasal spray). Fortunately, I got the H1N1 shot 2 days ago for which I had to wait 4 hours in line but found out now I cannot get a flu shot for 30 days. I am glad I got the H1N1 shot first and did not have to wait since the mortality rate is higher with H1N1 right now. So far so good. No bad reaction.

October 28, 2009 at 11:34 pm
(15) Eve says:

After 18 years living with IBD, I am on 200 mg./day of Imuran, and at the near-end of the tapering stages of Prednisone (5mg./day). In September I was recovering from a severe flare (after a week-long hospitalization at the end of August). I was pain-free for the first time in many years and, frankly, felt the way I did before I started showing signs of IBD.

On Oct.6, I felt fine. By 8 p.m. that night, I had a severe head-ache (so bad I was unable to drive my car home from work), a 104F temperature, and the chills. By Oct. 9, I was hospitalized and diagnosed with H1N1(temp. approaching 105F, severe chest pains, difficulty breathing). Over the next week and one-half, I was thrilled whenever my fever dipped once in a while to 102F. I was fever-free and out of the hospital by Oct. 16 but, as of Oct. 28, I still have a persistent (yet mild) headache (from lingering sinus/ear viruses). IBD flared up only a little during my bout with the flu (Oct. 8/9/10) but there are no signs of it now.

I had been planning on getting the H1N1 vaccine, but it was not yet available by the time I actually contracted the virus. Obviously, it is everyone’s personal choice to get the vaccine or not — I know, however, that I never want to experience anything like what I went through with H1N1.

Regardless of what people choose to do regarding the vaccine, best wishes for everyone’s good health and happiness this season.

October 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm
(16) Cory in Red Deer, Alberta says:

The Globe and Mail published answers to H1N1 questions on Oct. 19, 2009… it says that if your immune system has been comprimized (ie… remicade… immuran)… you should NOT get the vaccine. Rather, Tamiflu should be considered as a preventative… I just spoke to a doctor 5 minutes ago (I was typing this in her waiting room)…and she said… its not that the vaccines are harmful… but rather that there is no point since my immune system will not be able to create the anti-bodies. She gave me a prescription for Tamiflu… BUT only to be filled once I start showing symptoms of a flu.

October 29, 2009 at 11:00 pm
(17) Kelly Burke says:

My son is 7 years old and has SJIA, he takes methatrexate weekly as well as Remicade every 4 weeks, I was told by his Rhematologist to go ahead and get him vacinated for H1N1, as well as to get the flu shot. I am a little nervous to do so giving the rush of everything, information seems to change so frequentley it’s safe to give him then its not.

October 30, 2009 at 7:31 am
(18) Amber Tresca says:

I have just read several Q & A’s from the Globe and Mail and they are contradicting themselves regarding immune-compromised people. Also, specific drugs or conditioned were not mentioned. Who, exactly, are they talking about? Terminal cancer patients? Or someone taking prednisone? There is a huge difference. I think the author was not clear enough regarding the definition of immune-compromised people. The NIH, CDC, and WHO all urge immune-compromised people to get the vaccine. It would be extremely difficult to predict who would, and who would not “generate an adequate immune response.” If there is a chance that your body WILL create the antibodies, shouldn’t you get the shot? After all, if you don’t get the shot, there is ZERO chance that your body will create the antibodies.

November 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm
(19) B says:

Just finished reading some of the comments here. I normally wash my hands, blow my nose, etc to prevent getting ill – HOWEVER!!! I was diagnosed (unconfirmed) with H1N1. I’m 20 years old and have never gotten the flu.

Now, I’m sitting here – 1 week out of commission because I refused to take a pinch in the arm. If you want to risk losing a weeks pay, vomiting several times, having a fever of about 103 (lastnight), and losing your apetite – skip the shot, otherwise I am strongly recommending it.

This virus swept me off my feet in 1 day. I almost felt like calling an ambulance in at times. PEOPLE, THIS IS VIRUS IS NO JOKE. GET YOURSELF IMMUNIZED. VISIT YOUR DOCTOR!

November 2, 2009 at 11:46 am
(20) KIMBERLY says:

Our Specialist recommended it for our 11yrs with Crohn’s. Already done!!!!! Rest of the family is next. Anything we can we do to protect him, we will do. Our older son already had H1N1 and it took about 2 weeks to fully recover. Can’t imagine how our younger son’s body would react!!!!!!

November 2, 2009 at 7:09 pm
(21) Sandy says:

i am currently on prednisone and waiting for metaaptapurine to start working, i have proctitis. i have been ureged to get all the vacines,,not just flu.but pnuemonia, shingles etc. However, my internist will not give them to me until my prednisone dose is down to 10 mg as he said it will not be effective. I already took teh regular flu shot before I knew this. I am concenrned as I have had the flus shot for the last 20 years & have not gotten the flu. It is a nasty virus and it will mess up my very delicate system. Only a live virus can make some one sick ..the shots are less risky then the possible complications.

November 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm
(22) Chris says:

I have Ulcerative Colitis and I am on Azathioprine (150mg/day) and Remicade. I am concerned about H1N1 as I would fall into the ‘high risk’ category, but have heard conflicting advice on whether or not to get vaccinated. The latest from my specialist is that I have to wait 4 weeks after my last Remicade infusion (last week) until I can be vaccinated with the non-live shot. Has anyone else been told this?

November 7, 2009 at 9:17 pm
(23) Margaret says:

I don’t plan on getting the flu shot for myself or my family because first off it is still brand new and purely experimental. I have nor my family have ever received any flu shots and remained quite healthy. We are finding other means through nutrition and multivitamines to boost our immune system. I have also researched about Vit. D as a possible prevention for H1N1. No flu shot for us

November 25, 2009 at 2:11 pm
(24) claire white says:

I’ve had Crohn’s Disease for 21 years (I am now 40, diagosed in my late teens). I have taken Prednisolone for most of the 21 years along with a host of other medicines. I have also had a hemicolectomy and a couple of other small ops for it.
I had the swine flu jab two days ago and have felt extremely lousy since. Temperature of over 40 degrees, headaches, nausea, general aches and pains in most of my muscles. I have probably only felt this ill a couple of times in my life. I am, however, starting to feel a tiny bit berret this evening. It probably hasn’t helped that I have a one year old and a three year old to look after (mu husband and his parents have been a reat help but I have still had to do quite a bit).

Yes, it has me feel really really lousy, but if this prevents me getting it full blown then it will have been worth it I think (I wasn’t saying that yesterday morning though!!). We can only take the advice of our own madical practices and mine was that I have the vaccine. I didn’t question their prefessional advice once.


December 19, 2010 at 11:44 am
(25) ALISE says:


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