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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Will You Take the H1N1 Vaccine?

Published October 21, 2009 7:37 PM by Glen McDaniel
Each year, my friends and family ask me if I will be taking the flu shot. Of course they are usually referring to the seasonal flu vaccine. This year, the situation is complicated by the appearance of the H1N1 or so called "swine flu."

I always advise questioners that one cannot get the flu from the flu shot, members of all high risk groups should take the shot, and taking the shot is the responsible thing to do since it protects the most vulnerable among us-as well as ourselves.

Three years ago after taking the seasonal flu shot, I developed a low grade fever, sore throat; and induration and pain at the site of the shot. My physician and nurse friends tried to convince me variously that I was allergic to the egg protein, already coming down with a cold which just expressed itself anyway, or even that I was imagining the entire thing-high temperature, red face and all.

This year, I took the flu shot again (a couple weeks ago) and hardly even felt the shot. I was absolutely fine. So I decided to take the H1N1 shot this morning. It's been just about10 hours and I have a raging fever, headache, sore throat and a very sore arm. Plus severe nausea. I felt perfectly fine before the shot. This could all resolve in the next few hours, I know. But there is a definite connection between the shot and my symptoms.

The CDC website has some excellent information about the H1N1 vaccine  including some of the possible side effects of the H1N1 flu vaccine.

I am certainly not advising against getting the shot, but wanted to share my experience. Has anyone else had a similar reaction?


Thanks, Jonathan.  I am feeling much better. I did seek medical attention when the symptoms did not subside by day 4 and it became difficult to breathe. I opted  not to pursue further testing of  flu like symptoms, largely because treatment would not change based on a diagnosis of flu A/B or H1N1, several  days after symptoms began.

The doctor did find pneumonia-which is not all that uncommon in these sort of situations. Hence the wheezing and dfifficulty breathing.

I did supportive treatment for the flu-like symptoms, was prescribed antibiotics for the pneumonia and albuterol to facilitate breathing.

So was it the flu?  Was the timing just coincidental? Who knows? This experience just emphasizes the difficulty coming to a firm differential diagnosis and that treatment will often be empiric  anyway.

Glen McDaniel October 29, 2009 3:06 PM

I wont be taking the shot for sure. I have been lucky to avoid the flu for years and I hope with diet, exercise and healthy habits like handwashing I will be able to avoid it this year as well. As a healthcare professional I too say you cannot get the flu from the vaccine, but I have to tell you  the worst flu-like symptoms I have ever had in my life was 5 years ago when I got my (last) flu shot. I was sick for a good 4-5 days.

I also have a friend whose daughter got Guaillain Barre syndrome and they seem pretty sure it was from shots.

I hope you feel better soon.

Jonathan S October 26, 2009 8:42 AM
Miami FL

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