The swine flu vaccine is composed of inactivated H1N1 strain. It cannot itself cause the disease (it is not live). However, it provokes an immune response and it is the antibodies produced by the body itself that are protective. Like seasonal flu vaccine, it is expected that the level of protection will be 70-80% which is quite high. The protective effect is expected to last several years.
The types of vaccines available in the UK are known by the names Pandemrix and Celvapan. The two vaccines are similar but dosage and scheduling varies slightly. With Pandemrix, in the majority of people a single dose is sufficient. The exception is in children and adults who are immunocompromised (weak immunity). With Celvapan, everybody gets two doses administered at least three weeks apart.
Swine flu is caused by the H1N1 virus strain and this differs from the H5N1 strain which causes seasonal flu. A seasonal flu vaccine program is well established and those at risk are always encouraged to ensure they get vaccinated.
The swine flu vaccine can be given at the same time as the seasonal flu one. There are no compatibility issues.
Allergic reaction risk
The Pandemrix swine flu vaccine is manufactured utilising eggs. Those with egg allergy are therefore advised to avoid this particular brand. Celvapan, on the other hand, does not contain any egg components and can be administered to those with egg allergy without risk.
Just a reminder; seasonal flu vaccine at-risk groups are also regarded to be at higher risk of swine flu severe disease. They are therefore strongly advised to have this vaccine too. The at risk groups are people with:
Last update: January 16, 2012