Does the seasonal flu vaccine offer protection against H1N1 influenza?

Originally published in Insidermedicine

Receiving a seasonal flu vaccine may offer some protection against the H1N1 flu, although it by no means should replace an H1N1 vaccine, according to research published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal.

Here is some information about the H1N1 vaccine and seasonal flu vaccine:

• They are two separate vaccines. A seasonal flu vaccine protects against the most common circulating strains of flu. The H1N1 flu vaccine protects only against H1N1

• The seasonal flu vaccine is not designed to provide protection against H1N1 flu, and the H1N1 flu vaccine is not designed to provide protection against seasonal flu

• Both vaccines can be administered on the same day

Researchers from the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública in Cuernavaca compared the health outcomes of 60 patients with H1N1 flu with that of 180 patients who had other medical conditions that were not similar to the flu. All the patients were being treated in Mexico City during the time of the H1N1 outbreak. The researchers investigated whether receiving a seasonal flu vaccine had an impact on patient outcomes.

Patients without H1N1 flu were more likely to have received a seasonal flu vaccine than patients with H1N1 flu. Among those who were vaccinated but still came down with H1N1 flu, the condition tended to be less severe. In fact, all of those infected with H1N1 who had received the vaccine survived their illness.

Today’s research suggests that a regular seasonal flu vaccine may offer some protection against the H1N1 strain. Still, vaccination against H1N1 itself is essential to provide adequate protection against this potentially deadly illness.

✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories