September 7, 2009

H1N1 Influenza Vaccine?

CDC 2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccine information is available here! Almost half of all pregnant women say they will refuse to be vaccinated against H1N1/swine flu once the jab is available, suggesting there is widespread concern about its safety, a poll has revealed (
Do you plan on getting vaccinated? What has your RE/OB recommended? Typically pregnant women are recommended not to get vaccinated in the first trimester and women trying to get pregnant are asked to wait around a month after most vaccinations before TTC.


Thimerosal (mercury based preservative) free injectable flu (and H1N1) shots are available at most places. Even though studies show that shots containing Thimerosal are not harmful to pregnant ladies and the babies, it is probably a better idea to look for Thimerosal-free shots!

Thimerosal flu shots available at Walgreens

Here is the CDC info on Thimerosal.


  1. No way no where no how. But then I won't even take medication for my all-the-time sickness because my docotr told me that no medicine was safe for pregnant women. Basically for me if there is risk that this bub won't make it, I'm not interested.

  2. There is actually sufficient evidence from the World Health Org now that the standard vaccine (not any of the barnyard varieties from pigeons or piggies) does not decrease your odds of getting the flu - it just means that you may get a different strain not covered by the vaccine produced that year. Now, with the H1N1 and other scary strains, the concern is that those particular strains seem to produce more hospitalizations and complications. I am not so sure that's completely true, since publicity artificially jacks up the numbers reported. Most healthy people are not at serious risk for complications from any type of flu as long as you don't try to be a tough guy and avoid the doctor if the symptoms get bad. I admit I'm not up to date on the risks of getting vaccinated vs not during pregnancy, but your risk of complications from the flu, all other things being equal, are minimal.

  3. I always evaluate decisions like this on a risk vs benefit basis.

    Risk here, in my opinion, is quite small. There is always the potential for an adverse reaction to a vaccine, no matter what kind. It's there, but it is quantifiable, and for influenza vaccines it typically measures very small.

    Benefit here- basically this can go two ways. If the H1 N1 virus continues to behave the way it has so far, causing fairly mild disease, then the benefit is also small. The vaccine's benefit would then be to protect you from missing a few days of work/school/life.

    It's the second possibility here that makes things interesting. Suppose the H1N1 virus mutates into a slightly different form which can cause cytokine storms like the 1919 Spanish Influenza (fairly good explanation of this in Wikipedia). Basically now the flu virus causes healthy peoples' immune systems to overreact, causing the lungs to fill with fluid and the ill person to die of respiratory failure without prompt treatment in an intensive care unit of a hospital. Hospitals become overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of patients and many people die as a result. In this case, the benefit of vaccination by far outweighs the risks.

    So, the key here is whether or not the virus will mutate. No one knows. Anyone who claims to know would have to have a crystal ball, in which case they're probably in Las Vegas getting rich. But, the fewer people that get this flu, the fewer chances the virus has to mutate. That is a fact, and is one of the reasons that I will be vaccinating myself, my two children, and anyone else on the planet that I can persuade to do so.

    Thanks for asking. I love to talk mutant viruses, which coincidentally is what I studied while doing my PhD work in virology.

  4. Can I just say that I HATE that we have to worry about this? I plan on bringing this up at my first OB appt, but I've already been told by my HMO that "it's perfectly safe and we encourage all pregnant women to get it." I'm very conflicted. I feel like a guinea pig getting the vaccine, but I work in public schools with a population that frequently visits Mexico and has little access to proper medical care. What are you thinking?

  5. arg. sorry it's taken so long to get back to you!!

    i think that with twins you can chose between an OB who has experience with twins or with a MFM. I picked an OB...and when I went to see her for the first time she said that she wanted me to go to see the MFMs and get detailed growth scans every month in addition to seeing her. from what I can tell...i think that it's just b/c of the twins. i also have a history of a weird type of that may have pushed her in that direction, too, but i don't know.

    i know lots of people who had twins who never even saw a mfm. :) either way is probably fine.

    re: H1N1--that's a toughie. i don't even think that it's available here yet....

    how are you feeling?? :)

  6. Great question and has been on my mind too. Since I see an MFM where all the pregnancies are relatively high-risk, they STRONGLY encourage all pregnant women to get the vaccine. Both of the doctors told me that they believe the babies will receive some of the antibodies through the placenta, possibly providing their immature preemie lungs with some extra help.

    Give the disproportionate amount of pregnant women who are seriously ill from the disease, I will get it. I feel like get it/not getting it has risks, either way, but I'd rather err on the side of protection.

    That said, I really hate to vaccinate at all and wish that none of us had to worry about it!