H1N1 Vaccine Questions? …ask Dr. Anne

H1N1 Vaccine Questions? …ask Dr. Anne


Hello, I’m Pamela Bryant. I’m a mom and a CDC worker,
and just like you, I have questions
about the new H1N1 flu and the H1N1 flu vaccine. With me today is
Dr. Anne Schuchat, a chief scientist at CDC, who
will share information with us on some common questions
about the new H1N1 virus. Dr. Anne, so you’re
a chief scientist and director for CDC’s Immunization
and Respiratory Diseases Center. What’s with the uniform? You know, I wear the uniform
because I’m part of the U.S. Public Health
Service Commission Corps. It’s a non-military
uniformed service. I’m a doctor,
but a lot of people think I’m
an airplane pilot. But I’m actually just
a CDC worker like you. I’ve been here
over 20 years. Okay, so you’ve had
a great career at CDC. I understand you’ve been
very busy talking with many different
people about H1N1. Tell us, what is H1N1,
and how is it affecting people? The H1N1 influenza virus
is new. It just emerged
last spring in 2009. And, you know, some people have heard of it
as “the swine flu.” Important to know
that this doesn’t have to do with eating pork
or touching pigs or anything. This is a virus
that’s affecting a lot of people
right now. And we’re working hard
on it, to try to keep people
healthy and safe from it. Okay, well, I have
a few questions, a few more questions
for you, and so I can’t remember
everything — I decided
to write them down. Before we talk
about vaccines, I’m confused, along with
everyone else — what are we
calling this? Right, we’re calling this
“2009 H1N1.” We’re trying to differentiate it
from seasonal flu, or what you might think of
as “the regular flu.” Every year, there is
about 200,000 people hospitalized
from seasonal flu. And this year,
we also have this new H1N1 virus
in the mix, and so we’re working hard
to make sure that we can protect people
against seasonal flu, but also against
the H1N1 virus. Okay, and so when you say
“seasonal flu,” that’s regular flu
that some people get every year. That’s right. And those
seasonal flu viruses change a little bit,
year to year, but not so much,
and this new H1N1 virus is so different
that we don’t think the general population
is protected against it. And we’re taking extra steps
to offer protection. We do a lot
for seasonal flu. We offer flu vaccine
each year. This year, we’re making
a special vaccine up, the H1N1 vaccine,
that will be offered in addition to
the seasonal flu. There will probably be
different recommendations, but I can tell you a little
about them, if you want. The H1N1 vaccine
we’re offering for five focused
priority groups right now — for pregnant women,
for health care workers, for people who live with
or care for babies under 6 months — because those babies can’t get the vaccine
themselves, we want their moms and dads
and their caregivers to also get vaccinated. For children
and young adults between 6 months of age
and 24 years of age. And we want them
to get vaccinated because a lot of them
have been getting sick. They’ve been a big feature in the early disease
that we’ve seen. And then we also recommend
the vaccine for adults 25 through
64 years of age who have underlying chronic conditions
like diabetes and asthma, chronic heart disease
or chronic lung disease, because those people have had worse complications
from the influenza. They’ve had more
hospitalizations, and some have died. So how many doses
would each person need to get? You know, with the usual
seasonal flu vaccine or “regular flu” vaccine,
most people just need one dose. But with the H1N1 vaccine, we think most people
are going to need two doses. So, for starters,
we’re expecting everybody to get one dose,
and then three weeks later, come back
for a second dose. And should people expect
to experience any side effects from
having received two doses — one for regular flu and that first dose for H1N1
on the same day? You know, we’re expecting
that it’s just fine to get both
a seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine
at the same visit. We’re just expecting
a shot in each arm, not — that that would be
the way to go, so that that’s the plan. Now, we also think
the seasonal flu vaccine is going to be available
sooner than the H1N1 vaccine, so you don’t have to wait. We think it’s a good idea to get that
seasonal flu vaccine as soon as it’s available
near you, and then when the H1N1 vaccine
becomes available, take advantage of that. Okay, well, I have
two children — I mentioned
that I’m a mom — and they both
are vaccinated each year against
the regular flu. And, of course,
we’re considering the H1N1 flu vaccine,
as well. It’s great that your kids
are getting the seasonal flu vaccine
every year. We think that’s terrific. And we do think getting
the H1N1 vaccine will be important
for them, too. Okay. I know there’s a nasal spray
for the regular flu vaccine. Will this same nasal spray
be available for H1N1? Well, they’re actually
different ways of fighting off
influenza. The shot is a killed virus, and the nasal spray
is the weakened virus. But the really
important thing is that neither the nasal spray
nor the shot can give you flu. They can protect you
against flu. A lot of people think that
the flu vaccine gives you flu. It can’t. So you’ve talked about vaccines
and what’s in them. But we’re also hearing words
like, “adjuvants.” And just yesterday, someone
asked me about Squalene. What are those? Squalene is an adjuvant. Adjuvants are put
into vaccines to increase
the immune system. We’re not actually expecting
to use adjuvants for the H1N1 influenza vaccines
that we’re making. We have bought adjuvant
to have on the shelf. It’s really an emergency
provision or a contingency plan. If this virus mutates
and becomes much, much different
and more severe, we might need
to add adjuvants in order to have an immune
response that’s effective. But for the time being, we really aren’t expecting
to use them. We’re expecting to be using
vaccines that are produced exactly the same as the seasonal
influenza vaccines are, and they don’t have adjuvants
here in the United States. Well, with that in mind,
is the new vaccine safe? It’s really important
to me, as a doctor and a public health expert, that our vaccine safety system
is really strong. I can tell you
what we’re doing. We have a system
that’s out there for vaccines in general,
but we’re strengthening it for this H1N1 vaccine system. We want to make sure
that if there are any problems associated
with this vaccine, we find them quickly and we do something
about them. And where can we get
the vaccine? You know, in every state and city, it might be
just a little bit different, and so the way that
this vaccine distribution is going to work is that
the public health departments in the state
or the large city areas will be directing
the program. We’re expecting there to be
school clinics where school-age children
may be able to get the vaccine
right at school after their parents sign
a permission slip for that. We’re also expecting
the vaccine to be available in some doctors’ offices
and in some pharmacies and workplaces,
as well as in some community center
kinds of clinics. But the specifics are going to
depend on where you live, so we think it’s
going to be important for the public health
and the private health system to be in close
communication and for everybody out there
to stay tuned. You mentioned schools and school settings
for vaccinations. Will this be required
for entry into school or for kids to be able
to stay in school? No, not at all. What we’re offering is
a voluntary vaccination program where we want to make sure
people have access to vaccine and that vaccine
is available for them, but we don’t want this
to be a mandatory program. So kids won’t be kept
out of school if they don’t get
the vaccine. We want parents to have
good information so they can decide
about the vaccine, and we want to make sure
it’s easy for them to get it
for their kids. And again, these vaccines
are being thoroughly tested — That’s right. on different populations
or different types of people? You know, there are a number
of studies going on. They’re being done
around the country in a number of cities. There are some studies
in other countries, as well. And they’re being tested
on a diverse group of people — children and adults,
pregnant women, men and women. So we’ll really get a lot
of information from those. But it’s really important
for people to know that we’ve got
a huge experience with the seasonal
influenza vaccine. Every year, about
100 million people in the U.S. get that. And we look
at what happens with it. So I know that many people
wonder, you know, “How bad is this flu, and what could the vaccine
do to me?” Based on what I know today, I’m pretty concerned
about this virus and what the influenza virus
itself can do, and I’m feeling very comfortable
with the safety information, but knowing that we’re
going to keep looking and that it’s important
that we do that. Thank you, Dr. Anne, for joining me today
and answering many of the questions
and concerns that people are having about the H1N1 flu
and the H1N1 flu vaccine. It’s been
my pleasure, Pam, and it’s great
to get to meet you. Yes, thank you. I hope this conversation
has been helpful. And now that Dr. Anne knows me,
I’d better make sure that I get my kids vaccinated, so that they won’t miss school
and that I won’t miss work. Thanks for watching. Dr. Anne, here are a couple
of pictures of my kids.

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