September 24th, 2009
10:40 AM ET

Do I need the H1N1 vaccine if I think I already had the virus?

As a regular feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors answers readers’ questions. Here’s a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Birgitta in Newcastle, Washington:

I think I already had the swine flu but do not know for sure if it was swine flu, do I take the vaccination anyway? Is it safe to take if I suspect that the flu I had was swine flu?


Tens of thousands of people right now, like Birgitta, are suffering from or getting over the H1N1 virus. Those numbers will continue to swell as the flu season wears on, and these questions will inevitably come up over and over again.

Incidentally, I can relate. I contracted the H1N1 virus recently while reporting on the war in Afghanistan, and I was miserable for days. I got my immunity to H1N1 the hard way, so I can take a pass on the vaccine this year. But what about people who are not as sure, like Birgitta?

The bottom line is, unless you got a laboratory test confirming it, you cannot be sure that you actually got the H1N1 virus. There are several strains of influenza floating around out there this season, two of which are H1N1 and seasonal influenza. There are a handful of other strains you could have contracted.

The old adage, "Better to be safe than sorry," may apply here. Unless you're sure you had H1N1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you get vaccinated. Even if you did, in theory, get H1N1 the CDC reports no evidence that subsequently getting the H1N1 vaccine would cause problems for you.

You can think about your vaccination like an insurance policy. If you did have H1N1 during your recent illness, then you're protected. If you did not, you're also protected.

If you're wondering when the vaccine will be available, the largest shipment of H1N1 vaccine is scheduled for mid-October. By then, the first 45 million doses of the vaccine will be ready, with another 20 million doses shipped out each week until December.

And don't forget, the CDC recommends that you get the seasonal flu vaccine as well.

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. orlando Aanda

    I had Gillain Barret when I was a child- 1969 and had a 100% recuperation. What are the risks of getting vaccinated for the H1N1 virus?


    October 1, 2009 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mary Canaday

    I am having trouble understanding why it is that some pediatricians are recommending that children receive the H1N1 vacc and others do not. My grandchildren are 4 and two are 9. From most of the literature that I have been reading, it encourages this age to get the shot. Last night on nightline, it showed two young children, both on ventalators. The young boy of approx 12 years old had been to his MD and the parents were told that he was OK. Less than 12 hrs later, the child was in ICU, vented, and had a chest tube in for a collapsed lung. Neither child was given the flu shot. How are we to understand as parents and grandparents what is the best for our children. If it does attack the 6 mo to 24 years, why are the MD's not recommending the shot. Thank You

    October 14, 2009 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Mary Ann

    I am a 72 year old with COPD, Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis and several other problems. I have been hospitalized three times in the past 18 months, and experienced a near death trauma. I am not eligible for H1N1, according to the guidelines, however, I am very anxious that should i get this flu I wont survive..and I have a lot of living to do!! They say I have probably already been exposed to this virus, but what if I wasnt? When will this vaccine be available to all who want it?

    November 7, 2009 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Linda

    My husband received his H1N1 vaccine shot today but he has been running a low grade temperature and suffering with congestion. Is there any danger from receiving the vaccine if he currently has the virus??

    February 3, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. trish laffey

    hi my son got h1n1 in october now school says they have to be vaccinated does he need it ?he was swabbed and it was definatly H1N1 in hospital.my doctors office said he should get it he had asthma up til three years ago?

    March 1, 2010 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. www.xmc.pl

    I used the translator and I have learned a lot for you! Thank you a lot for sharing.


    December 12, 2020 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. www.Pianino.xmc.pl

    The subsequent time I learn a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I imply, I do know it was my option to read, however I actually thought youd have one thing interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you could possibly fix should you werent too busy on the lookout for attention.


    February 5, 2021 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. frolep rotrem

    This really answered my downside, thanks!


    February 6, 2021 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Pianino Teoria

    I just added this website to my rss reader, great stuff. Cant get enough!


    February 7, 2021 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Aluminium Metale

    Miej odwage zyc. Umrzec potrafi kazdy. – Robert Cody


    February 8, 2021 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. http://www.fokuszpalyazat.hu/rolunk

    I?¦ve recently started a blog, the information you offer on this website has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work.


    February 9, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. House Clearance Newport

    Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam feedback? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can recommend? I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any support is very much appreciated.


    February 9, 2021 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Socjologia.XMC.pl

    I like this information presented and it has given me some sort of commitment to succeed for some reason, so keep up the good work.

    February 10, 2021 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Norwegia Przewodnik

    Nic zycia jest mieszanym wloknem, dobro i zlo przewijaja sie razem. – William Shakespeare


    February 15, 2021 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Filozofia

    A low semen volume analysis examines certain characteristics of a males low semen and the amount of sperm that is contained in the semen fluid volume. It may be done while investigating a couples infertility or maybe after a vasectomy to verify that the procedure was successful. It is also used for testing the donors for ejaculation fluid donation. Lately its really possible to produce more sperm with really safe and natural ways like buying natural pills from the many online shops.


    February 19, 2021 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Kongres USA

    This is a appealing article by the way. I am going to go ahead and bookmark this post for my sister to read later on tonight. Keep up the good work.


    February 22, 2021 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Cukrzyca

    Looking through your blog gives me the chance to realize precisely why I like reading things with so much understanding. It truly is wonderful to know there are still terrific authors around that will put wit into knowledgable information. I appreciate you for your contributions and eagerness to share your thoughts with us.


    February 28, 2021 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Szkło Blog

    Have a good day!. How do you promote this blog? It seems to get a good ammount of traffic. Also, can you share where did you get the theme or layout of your site? I'm new to blogging and would like mine to look as good as yours. Thanks a lot. Breast Enhancement pills


    March 11, 2021 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Cypr Podatki

    Took me time to read all of the feedback, but I actually loved the article. It proved to be very useful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It is always good when you cant solely learn, but in addition engaged! Im sure you had pleasure writing this article. Anyway, in my language, there arent a lot good source like this.


    April 10, 2021 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.