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One Swine Flu Shot or Two?

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Getting just one swine flu vaccine shot might not protect them one hundred percent, according to some experts.

Dr. Nina Shapiro: So, maybe you have a kid under 10 years old, and maybe you've somehow gotten them the swine flu vaccine. Is that good enough? Are they now immune to developing swine flu? Well, the jury is out on that, and the powers that be differ in their recommendations.

child getting vaccinated

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci, there is a good reason why children under 10 years old need two vaccines. The reason is NOT because young children develop some sort of "partial" immunity, which, if worse comes to worst, would mean that they would develop a "mild" case of the disease.

While you may have experienced this, or heard of kids developing a "mild swine flu" after one vaccination, that is coincidence. NIAID actually studied which age groups develop immunity to H1N1 virus after one dose of the vaccine, and here's what they found: For healthy adults, 97% of them will develop immunity after one dose of the vaccine. For children ages 10 to 17 years, 76% of them will develop immunity after one dose. While 24% of 10- to 17-year-olds do not develop immunity, 76% of a given population developing immunity is considered statistically "adequate" for flu vaccinations in general, including the seasonal flu vaccine.

For children ages 3 to 9 years, 36% will develop immunity after one dose, and for children ages 6 months to 3 years, only 25% will develop immunity after one dose. After two doses (recommended 21 to 28 days after the first dose), 94-100% of children ages 6 months through 9 years develop immunity to H1N1.

The World Health Organization (WHO), unlike NIAID, recommends single dosing even to young children, with the idea that stretching out such a short supply of vaccine over a larger population will increase the overall immunity of the world population at large. NIAID disagrees, suggesting that this would simply be under-protecting the most vulnerable group (children), and that second dosing should be utilized in children before being given to lower risk adults.

While one shot may be better than none, and most are happy to have gotten one at all -- having driven hours to get to that "swine flu shot spot," only to wait in line for the better part of the day -- what do we do, knowing that close to 75% of those children vaccinated are not immune to the virus?

Get back in line, I guess.

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