Swine flu and the vaccine

October 20, 2009

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Barbara Schnitker

Barbara Schnitker, director of clinical services at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and a registered nurse, will answer questions about the swine flu, the vaccine for it, and the upcoming immunization clinics.


Good morning everyone. I am Karrey Britt, health reporter, and I will be moderating this chat. I would like to welcome Barbara Schnitker, director of clinical services at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and a registered nurse, to the News Center. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to come answer some questions about H1N1.

Barbara Schnitker:

I'm glad to be here. Thanks for having me.


We have quite a few questions, so let's get started. Here's your first one.


My mother is a 78 year old insulin-dependent diabetic. Should she receive the H1N1 vaccine?

Barbara Schnitker:

Yes, she should, but later when the priority groups have received vaccine. At this time, people 25-64 with a chronic health condition are in the first priority group along with others such as pregnant women, children 6 mos. through 24 years, caregivers/household members of a child younger than 6 mos. and health care/emergency service workers with direct patient care.


Is there any proof that there are no "long" term side affects from the H1N1 vaccination?
If one is eligible for the H1N1 vaccination, could they get it at Haskell University this Wednesday, October 21,2009, even if they're not a Native-American?

Barbara Schnitker:

Anyone in a priority group can get the vaccine at Haskell on Oct. 21. Safety/efficacy studies have been done and the safety profile is similar to seasonal flu vaccine, which has a long record of safety.


I have the flu right now. Sore throat, runny nose, fever alternating with chills. Will a vaccine help me at all in the future?

Barbara Schnitker:

Yes, both seasonal and H1N1vaccine would be helpful. There are lots of circulating viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms and the vaccine is the best protection. It would be recommended to delay getting the vaccine until you are feeling better.


If I choose to get an H1N1 vaccine, as an adult, will I have my choice between a shot and the stuff you spray up your nose? What's the difference? Why are there two "types" of vaccine?

Barbara Schnitker:

Both the flu injection and the live attenuated nasal mist provide good protection. The nasal mist formulation is for healthy people between 2 and 49 years of age and not pregnant. The injections are for people with underlying medical conditions who cannot get the nasal mist formulation, for children 6 mo. and older and can also be given to healthy individuals as well. The vaccine type administered will be dependent on priority group, age and vaccine supply considerations.


Are more people sick from flu than is usual for this time of year, or does it just feel like more people are sick because of increased coverage from news media and social media?

Barbara Schnitker:

There is more influenza like illness than is typical for this time of year. Flu activity is widespread in 41 states, including Kansas. Flu-related hospitalizations and deaths are all higher than expected for this time of year.


Why do some people get tested for H1N1 and others are not even seen, just told to stay home and treat the symptoms?

Barbara Schnitker:

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. The recommendation is to stay home and treat the symptoms with rest, fluid, fever reducers if necessary and to stay home until fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication. More severe symptoms may need to be evaluated by a physician, especially in people who are pregnant, children and those with underlying medical conditions. H1N1 is the predominant circulating virus at this time. Testing is not routinely being done.


My son is 2 and has a history of febrile seizures. I would like to get him vaccinated for the H1N1, would he be eligible for the nasal spray since he is in good health? Can he attend the clinic tomorrow at the Haskell tomorrow since we are Douglas Co. residents?

Barbara Schnitker:

A healthy 2 year old would be eligible to receive nasal mist, but in the case of a history of febrile seizures, would recommend consultation with your child's physician. A 2 year old would be eligible to receive the injectable flu vaccine. The clinic at Haskell is open to the public.


I noted on the consent form that you ask if you have had any vaccinations in the past 30 days - I had the season flu shot on Sept 30 - can I still get the N1N1 Shot Wednesday (I am in the priority group).

Barbara Schnitker:

If you received a seasonal flu injection on Sept. 30 you can receive the H1N1 vaccine at any interval.


Will those in high priority groups need to bring any proof or documentation of their need when they come to receive the vaccine?

Barbara Schnitker:

No, we will just ask you to check on a form which priority group you are in, but no documentation is needed.


Are there going to be clinics at the elementary schools?

Barbara Schnitker:

Yes, the Health Department is working with schools in Douglas County and is planning school-based clinics in November. Nov. 11 and 12 are the dates for Lawrence elementary schools and more information will be forthcoming.


Are both the LAIV and inactivated forms of H1N1 vaccine available at the clinics? I am wanting to have my 7 month old infant vaccinated.

Barbara Schnitker:

Both LAIV flu mist and inactivated injectable H1N1 vaccine will be available. A 7 mo. old child is too young to receive the LAIV formulation and would need the injection.


I have concerns about the H1N1 vaccine and pregnant women. I'm pregnant right now, and am worried that not enough testing was done on pregnant women.

Barbara Schnitker:

Pregnant women are at higher risk for severe complications and death from influenza infection. Vaccination is important protection. Clinical trials have been done and the safety/efficacy are similar to seasonal flu. The manufacturing/production process is the same as for seasonal flu.


I want both of my children to receive the H1N1 shot as well as the seasonal flu shot. How long should I wait between vaccinations? Their ages are 2 and 5.

I read an article this morning that said they have not figured out the correct dose for people with asthma (Chicago Tribune). I have asthma and was wondering if I should wait a little while before getting the H1N1 shot until they have figured out the correct dose for people with asthma.

Barbara Schnitker:

I have not seen the article you refer to about asthma. People with asthma are in a priority group to receive H1N1 vaccine and the seasonal flu shot is also recommended. Children 2 and older can receive the LAIV flu mist if they are healthy or can receive the injectable formulation. Seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccine injections can be given on the same day or any interval. The LAIV formulations of seasonal and H1N1 cannot be given on the same day and need to be separated by 28 days. Children through 9 years of age should get 2 doses of H1N1 vaccine separated by a month. Children through 8 years of age should get 2 doses of seasonal flu vaccine separated by a month if this is their first season to be vaccinated. Older children and adults need only one dose.


Lisa Horn, communications coordinator for the health department, wanted to pass along the following link regarding H1N1 vaccine safety and pregnant women. And, here's the next question.


Are the H1N1 vaccines only available at the immunization clinic, or can they be received by appointment at the LDCHD? (I work out of town so getting my child to the clinic may be difficult.)

Barbara Schnitker:

At this time the H1N1 vaccine is only available at special clinics. We do expect to be giving the vaccine at the Health Dept clinic location, but not until November and we will let the public know when this happens.


Is the regular flu vaccine available right now at the health department? I know there is a shortage right now, but wanted to see if it is available.

Barbara Schnitker:

The Health Dept. is currently out of seasonal flu vaccine. We do not yet have a delivery date for the rest of the supply we ordered. I would suggest checking with your private physician and local pharmacies.


Is H1n1 going to be around indefintely?

Barbara Schnitker:

That's a bit difficult to answer, but in as much as it has been the predominant circulating virus since April and also in the Southern Hemisphere during the summer and continues to circulate this fall, it is certainly likely that the virus will be around for awhile.


Are there limited quantity available at these clinics that have been set up? I am concerned that I will show up and stand in line and then be told there are no more available. I have a 2 month old, and a 3 yr old, I am fortunate to be able to stay home with them, but My husband works outside the home and our 16 yr old is in school. We would all be considered high risk because of our infant correct?

Barbara Schnitker:

Yes, you would all be in the priority group of being a household member/caregiver of an infant under 6 mos. of age. It is possible that we will run out of vaccine tomorrow.


There are a lot more questions. But, Barbara needs to get back to the office to prepare for Wednesday's H1N1 flu clinic. She will take one more question. Here it is:


What will be the cost for the vaccine?

Barbara Schnitker:

There is no charge for the vaccine given at Health Department H1N1 clinics.


Thank you for taking time to come in and answer these questions.

Barbara Schnitker:

Thank you for all the great questions. I appreciated the opportunity. Additional information is available on the Health Dept website at and on the CDC website at


We plan to schedule another live chat next week concerning swine flu and seasonal flu and the vaccines for them. Thank you for participating in today's live chat.


Marion Lynn 4 years, 5 months ago

"(AP)CBS News has learned that President Obama received his seasonal flu shot this afternoon. Other members of the First Family had already gotten theirs.

As a healthy adult with no underlying conditions, President Obama does not fall into the priority group to receive the H1N1 flu shot just yet.

But he intends to get it when available to the general population. "

Marion writes:

Of course, while Barack Hussein Obama was receiving his potentially life-saving flu shot, Americans were still needlessly dying in Afghanistan


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