One dose or two?

I received my swine flu vaccination yesterday as I belong to the category of people considered more ‘at-risk’ from the virus. The vaccine was administered by the practice nurse at our local surgery and it caused minimum discomfort. However, it seems that the mixed messages emanating from the vaccination campaign, are causing major headaches.

On arrival at the surgery, the reception staff were clearly harassed from trying to deal with multiple enquiries about the vaccine. I was asked to fill out a consent form which requested my name, age, at-risk status and a PPSN (Personal Public Service Number). The information supplied with the form clearly stated that two doses of the vaccine would be required, at least three weeks apart. I was surprised to read of this as I had understood from the vaccination campaign, that one dose was sufficient for adults.

vaccinationWhile having the injection, I asked the nurse to clarify the situation and she confirmed that a second dose would be required. She asked me to make a booking for it at the reception desk on the way out. When I consulted the receptionists, the story changed again. I was told that one dose may be sufficient for adults but that as studies are still under way to confirm this, I should check back with the surgery in a few weeks time. Having waited the required 15 minutes to ensure that no adverse reaction occurred to the vaccine, I left the surgery feeling decidely sorry for the staff caught up in this evolving campaign.

On checking out the HSE’s website (Frequently asked questions for Healthcare Professionals – last updated 28th October 2009), it read…

“Current recommendation is two doses of pandemic vaccine are required at least three weeks apart. Preliminary studies indicate that one dose might be enough to give full protection for those aged 13 and over but this has not yet been confirmed”.

I recommend that people consult the HSE website regularly for the latest updates on the vaccination programme rather than bombarding the busy GP surgeries with phonecalls.

For information, visit or Freephone 1800 94 11 00

Today, I’ve experienced some of the common side effects of the vaccine and they’ve served as a welcome reminder of the need to be protected from the swine flu. Any adverse reactions to the vaccine should be reported to the Irish Medicines Board online.

7 Responses to One dose or two?

  1. alhi says:

    I too am considered “at risk” and received my vaccine on Wednesday evening. I have to have a second dose in three weeks time because in immuno suppressed people there is a risk that not enough anti-bodies will be picked up by our immune system to make us immune! That’s what UK guidelines are saying anyway. Can’t say I’m looking forward to the second dose: the area around the injection site is hot to touch, quite painful (can be difficult to lie on that side when sleeping) and there’s an area about a cm wide that’s quite red. Very different from the “normal” flu vaccine.

  2. Grannymar says:

    I have booked my ‘piggie’ session for next week (in Co Antrim). When I asked the receptionist if it entailed one session or two I was told it depended on which variety of the vaccine they were using. Either way, since they have me on the ‘at risk’ list, I am sure it will be easier on my system than the full blown version.

  3. Annb says:

    I have no idea whether we’re in the one or two doses category – I don’t fancy going through the side effects all over again, my trotters are really quite tender now! Will check with my GP next week – don’t you just love it when a HSE plan comes together?

  4. Steph says:

    alhi – I got the vaccine on Wednesday evening too and felt nothing at first. By the following day, I was aching all over and thankfully, it’s lessened today. I’ve no reaction around the injection site.

    I was just amazed to find that there’s still a dilemma at this stage about how many doses are required. It seems that the powers that be, are hoping that more information will emerge confirming that one dose of vaccine will be enough to protect people aged 13 and over.

    Grannymar – Having had a taste of the side-effects, I’m all the more grateful to have been given a chance to escape this horrible flu. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to start to work so the sooner you get your ‘jab’, the better!

    Ann – I know you’ve had a rough time with the side effects of the vaccine so I really hope you don’t have to go through it all again. Perhaps second time around, the side effects are less? I’m not a bit surprised that the GPs are complaining they’ve been landed in it!

  5. alhi says:

    Hmm, hope my reaction around the injection site is normal then! According to the leaflet it is. I’ve been a bit achy today but to be honest I sometimes am (arthritis) so hard to tell if it’s the injection.

  6. Baino says:

    We have free vaccines here too but none of us have bothered, it’s very much a storm in a teacup here and seems to have passed, hopefully with the season. Good that you’re getting it though, like you say, you’re ‘at risk’

  7. Steph says:

    alhi – No two people are alike so I think it’s quite normal to expect that different reactions to the vaccine will occur. Personally, I’m happy to put up with whatever it takes to ensure that I’m protected from getting the swine flu.

    Baino – I hope you’re proved right. From what I’ve understood, we ain’t seen nothing yet in terms of the loss of life from this virus! I don’t wish to scaremonger but I do believe that it’s important to be protected against the swine flu even when you’re otherwise healthy.

    Even though I’m on daily treatment for asthma, I don’t get the yearly flu vaccination because I believe that my immune system is capable of dealing with the ordinary flu. However, the swine flu virus seems to be hitting the immune system differently and has caused a severe respiratory illness in some people so I’m not prepared to take any risks.

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