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Flu Vaccine Update

The H1N1 outlook for fall

It’s almost time to start thinking about flu shots again. (Ugh.) The good news is, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared the H1NI pandemic over—meaning that we will, hopefully, be spared vaccine shortages and Swine-filled headlines. 

What it doesn’t mean is that H1N1 will disappear. Maja Castillo, a pediatrician at Tribeca Pediatrics, explains that it will likely be back this fall and will act more like a typical seasonal flu—thanks to successful vaccination against H1N1 last year and the immunity that so many people achieved by getting sick with the virus or being exposed enough times to become immune. 

Barring a new and unexpected strain of H1N1, there will be only one flu shot this year, not two. Castillo says this year’s regular seasonal flu vaccine will also protect against the H1N1 strain that caused last year’s pandemic. Two doses of the shot are recommended for children ages six months to eight years who haven’t had the H1N1 vaccine before, or who only had one dose last year. Children who received two doses last year will only require one dose this season. (Doctors will typically give the Thimerosal-free version of the vaccine to kids under the age of 3, but it is not required so be sure to check with your pediatrician.)

And of course the biq question: when can you get it? “The supplier has not set an availability date yet, but the vaccine is expected to be shipped to doctors’ offices by the beginning of September,” says Castillo. Your best bet is to contact your pediatrician in the coming weeks to find out when they will begin scheduling flu shot appointments.