HIV/AIDS Individuals Urged to Not Take H1N1 Nasal Spray

HOUSTON (Nov. 10, 2009) – Confirmed HIV/AIDS individuals and people who suspect they may be HIV-positive should not get the 2009 H1N1 nasal spray vaccine. The results of inhaling the live, but weakened, virus nasal spray by these individuals could have serious consequences, according to Dr. Gus Krucke, specialist, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, HIV Care, Thomas Street Health Center.

Thomas Street Health Center, part of the Harris County Hospital District, is the nation’s first free-standing HIV/AIDS facility, providing comprehensive, cutting-edge care to the residents of Harris County.

Known as the live attenuated influenza vaccine, the nasal spray is a safe and effective form for many healthy individuals to immunize against the H1N1 flu. Current guidelines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that only healthy individuals 2-49 years of age, who are not pregnant, can get the nasal spray vaccine. People who should not receive the nasal spray vaccine include HIV/AIDS patients, as well as, people with asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease and neurocognitive and neuromuscular disorders.

“People with immunocompromised conditions like HIV/AIDS are going to be susceptible to the H1N1 flu and should be vaccinated against the virus as soon as possible,” Krucke, assistant professor, Internal Medicine, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, said. “However, these individuals should not get the live virus nasal spray because it could potentially have deadly consequences.”

As a matter of public safety, he recommends individuals with HIV/AIDS consult their physician for the appropriate vaccine, a non-live injectable form. People not diagnosed as HIV-positive, but who suspect they might be infected should get an HIV test performed to check their status before considering any vaccination option. 

According to CDC, people who should not get the seasonal or H1N1 nasal spray vaccine are:

  • People younger than 2 years of age;
  • Pregnant women;
  • People 50 years of age and older;
  • People with a medical condition that places them at higher risk for complications from influenza, including those with chronic heart or lung disease, such as asthma or reactive airways disease; people with medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes or kidney failure; or people with illnesses that weaken the immune system, or who take medications that can weaken the immune system;
  • Children younger than 5 years old with a history of recurrent wheezing;
  • Children or adolescents receiving aspirin therapy;
  • People who have had Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder of the nervous system, within six weeks of getting a flu vaccine,
  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs or who are allergic to any of the nasal spray vaccine components.

People who should get the injectable form of seasonal or H1N1 vaccine are:

  • Pregnant women
  • People who live with or care for infants younger than 6 months of age
  • Healthcare and emergency medical personnel
  • Anyone from 6 months - 24 years of age
  • Anyone from 25 - 64 years of age with certain chronic medical conditions or a weakened immune system
  • Healthy 25 - 64 year olds
  • Adults 65 years and older

Each year, about 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. Of this number, 36,000 people die each year. More than 90 percent of deaths and 60 percent of hospitalizations occur in people over the age of 65.

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