Dr. Manny Answers Your H1N1 Questions

I've been getting a lot of questions in response to a recent blog I wrote about monitoring H1N1 vaccine side effects, so I wanted to take the time to address some of your concerns. I know the overload of information on this pandemic can be confusing, but I'm here to help, so keep the questions coming and I'll do my best to answer them for you.

I thought I heard that the H1N1 vaccine is bad for pregnant women as it has long term effects on the baby. Now, I find nothing on Fox about that. Can you PLEASE clear this up? My daughter is 6 months pregnant and does not know what to do!! You must have heard wrong. We have been saying right from the beginning, as we say every year for the regular flu shot: Pregnant women are considered a high-risk group. Pregnant women have an underactive immune system as well as compromised respiratory capacity, so if a pregnant woman gets the flu, she could have serious side effects, which may not only jeopardize her health - but that of her unborn child. So get both flu shots!

Once you have had H1N1, can you get it again in the same season? What about next season? Can we get it again after it mutates?

We do not know the complete answer to this question however, if you have had the current H1N1 flu strain, you probably have immunity to this specific strain of the virus. So this season, you may have nothing to worry about. However, if the virus mutates or a new strain of H1N1 virus emerges, past exposures to the current flu strain may not be protective.

My son is 15 months old and he is borderline asthmatic. Should I get the vaccine? So many people say yes, and so many people say no. I'm so confused and don't know what to do!! Please help!

The answer to your question is, yes. The CDC is specifically looking at children with asthma. Many of the complicated H1N1 cases we've seen have been in asthmatic children. The combination of viral pneumonia and asthma in a small child could be quite devastating and deadly. So talk to your pediatrician and strongly consider vaccinating your child. And don't forget to get yourself immunized.

If the H1N1 vaccine is not available, will the pneumonia vaccine help protect your lungs from getting pneumonia if you get the flu?

The pneumonia vaccine is targeted to protect against bacterial pneumonia - specifically pneumococcal pneumonia. This will not offer protection against a viral pneumonia - which can be a complication of the flu. So talk to your doctor before you make any decisions.