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Keep Your Flu Shots Straight This Fall
Date:9/2/2009

What you need to know about vaccinations for swine flu, regular flu

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- This fall, Americans will face a double challenge in getting shots for two strains of flu -- the H1N1 swine flu and the seasonal variety.

"Two different vaccines are probably going to be out there," said Dr. Christine Mhorag Hay, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "I think it will be confusing."

But keeping a few simple facts in mind should cut down on the confusion and help get the vaccine to everyone who needs it, experts said.

People, especially those considered at high risk -- such as pregnant women, young children and people with preexisting health conditions, such as diabetes -- may need three shots, not just one, to fully protect themselves this year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention won't know until the early fall how many doses of swine flu vaccine will be most effective but, CDC spokesman Joe Quimby said, "It's believed that two doses will be required."

The good news is that the seasonal flu shot is ready and available now. "Public health folks are urging people to get the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible just to get it out of the way," Hay said.

Added Sharon A. Wilkerson, dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing in College Station: "Regular flu is going to be hitting us by October. January-December is the usual peak time, so it's going to be early this year. People shouldn't be waiting for the swine flu vaccine to be out before they go ahead and get a regular flu shot."

Protection against the regular flu requires only one shot, except for children under 9 who have never had a shot before: They need two, Quimby said.

But the seasonal flu vaccine won't protect you against swine flu, said Dr. Gordon Dickinson, chief of infectious diseases
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