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Seasonal Flu Vaccine May Lessen Swine Flu Impact
Date:10/6/2009

But it won't fully protect people from the H1N1 virus, experts say

TUESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The seasonal flu vaccine may offer partial protection against the pandemic H1N1 swine flu, but not enough to prevent a person from catching the swine flu, Mexican researchers say.

In a study of hospital patients during the H1N1 epidemic in Mexico City last spring, the researchers found that those who had had a seasonal flu shot and were infected with the H1N1 flu had significantly milder cases than those who had not received a seasonal flu shot.

For the study, a group led by Dr. Jose Luis Valdespino-Gomez reviewed the outcomes of 60 patients with swine flu and 180 patients with other diseases. Some of the patients reported having received a 2008-09 seasonal flu shot.

"Seasonal vaccine may provide partial protection against pandemic influenza, particularly severe forms of the disease," said Valdespino-Gomez, an epidemiologist at Laboratorios de Biologicos y Reactivos de Mexico.

But Valdespino-Gomez cautioned that these findings do not mean that a seasonal flu shot will fully protect you from the H1N1 swine flu or its complications. "These results do not mean that people should not be vaccinated with the H1N1 influenza vaccine," he said. "The recommendation is to receive both seasonal and H1N1 vaccines."

This year's seasonal flu vaccine is available now, and the new H1N1 vaccine is about to be distributed. People should get both shots, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The seasonal vaccine may boost existing antibodies in those who have had a similar flu virus or a vaccination against seasonal flu, the researchers say.

The study, published in the Oct. 7 online edition of the British Medical Journal, has limitations because of the small number of participants. "In addition, the control group had a high frequency of chronic underlying c
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