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Specialist Advises on Type A Flu Vaccination

Posted November. 10, 2009 09:46,   


A combined 7.5 million public school students will start to get vaccinated against type A flu from tomorrow. With the start of vaccination looming, The Dong-A Ilbo asked Dr. Kim Hong-bin, a specialist on infectious diseases at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, how to protect against the disease.

Dong-A: Should a person who has recovered from a prior case of type A flu still get vaccinated?

Kim: If you’ve recovered from type A flu, you have immunity against the virus. In other words, you have a defense against the virus if it attacks again. Since those who were diagnosed with the H1N1 virus through the accurate diagnostic test RT-PCR and recovered from it have adequate immunity, they theoretically do not need vaccination.

Those diagnosed with the virus through a rapid antigen diagnostic test mostly conducted in neighborhood clinics and who later recovered cannot be considered confirmed cases. The rapid test is a simple gauge on whether one has influenza so that its accuracy in distinguishing between seasonal and swine flu is just 50 percent. In the event of a positive result, you cannot know if you’re infected with seasonal or swine flu. If you took just the simple test, you might want to get vaccinated.

Dong-A: Can someone still contract swine flu even after getting vaccinated?

Kim: We can say those who got vaccinated or recovered after being confirmed of having type A flu have immunity. Flu vaccines are effective for 70-80 percent of healthy young adults. Experts say type A flu vaccinations will be just as effective, but could be less so for the elderly and feeble or those with chronic illness. This is because they’re likely to get type A flu after getting vaccinated. Since it takes at least 10 days to develop immunity, you might get the flu in between. Therefore, if you don’t feel good after getting vaccinated, you should see a doctor immediately.

Dong-A: Should a person take Tamiflu if fever occurs after vaccination?

Kim: Experts say the type A flu vaccine might not be effective for certain people, similar to the seasonal flu vaccine. This means you can get type A flu even after getting vaccinated. If you have high fever after getting vaccinated and a severe sore throat, you should see a doctor and find out whether the symptoms are caused by type A flu or just flu, or if the fever is temporary due to vaccination. Consult with your doctor, take Tamiflu or get appropriate treatment.

Dong-A: Can a person get vaccinations for type A and seasonal flu one after the other?

Kim: Most seasonal flu vaccines available in Korea are inactivated vaccines, as are those for type A flu. There are activated and inactivated vaccines. Activated vaccines don’t kill viruses but cultivate them, weakening pathogens and maintaining immunity. Inactivated vaccines use part or all of the dead virus. Generally, if you get activated vaccines, you can maintain immunity for a long time, but weak people can get really ill. Since inactivated vaccines are mostly used in Korea, there is no problem with getting vaccinated for both types of flu at the same time or consecutively.

It doesn`t matter which vaccine you get first. Health authorities, however, recommend that people aged 65 or older get a seasonal flu vaccine first before one for type A flu. This is because they are more at risk for complications due to type A flu than young people and are behind public school students, who are more likely to contract the virus, on the priority list for type A flu vaccination.

Getting a flu vaccination in a healthy condition is the best scenario, so consult with your doctor if you have slight fever, ear infection or diarrhea.