Tuesday, October 27, 2009

chemotherapy and the H1N1 vaccine

As someone in ongoing chemotherapy, I have a compromised immune system. This puts me at increased risk for contracting H1N1.

I am among the priority groups established by the City of Ottawa, as is my family, and were it not for the hours long lineups (several centres closed the lineups by late afternoon), I would have had my shot yesterday.

I did call the oncologist yesterday to ask about interactions between Neupogen (the drug I take after chemo to boost my white blood cell count and fight infection). When I didn't hear back immediately I checked with the cancer centre receptionist who, told me (after checking with someone) that I should go ahead and get the shot.

Today, the nurse who works with my oncologist called and told me to wait.

The reasoning goes as follows:

Chemotherapy suppresses the immune system.

The flu shot is meant to boost it.

Having the H1N1 shot (or any other flu vaccine) too close to chemotherapy lessens the effectiveness of the shot.

Those of us getting chemo are instructed to wait to the end of the chemo cycle, get our bloodwork done (to ensure that our counts are high enough) and then get the shot the day before the next round of chemo.

This means that I will be waiting until November 10 for my H1N1 vaccine.

And washing my hands. A lot.


nonlineargirl said...

I am suddenly taking this a lot more seriously - my sister's father-in-law just died of H1N1. He was on immuno-suppressing drugs to keep his body from rejecting his donor kidney. Ugh.

sassymonkey said...

I'm washing my hands a lot lately. The bus I take home after work stops at the Civic so I figure it's "extra" exposure. Yay.

chemotherapy said...

Actually H1N1 isn't that serious... your suppressed immune system is going to be vulnerable to just about any virus not only H1N1... not sure if you're really considering getting vaccinated may be you may want to read about it..

Anonymous said...

I’m a cancer patient with 2 children. I’m still undergoing chemotherapy and I have been trying to get the H1N1 shot with no luck,I also need the boost with my white cells. We are expressly told NOT to go where there is a crowd as our immune system is low. Yet when I have gone for “The Shot” asked if chemo patients sit and wait somewhere else I was told no I’d have to sit with everyone else. I cannot sit for 4 hours with a few hundred other people where I may pick up any virus and while feeling the side effects of the chemo, which aren't very nice. I have spoken to the health unit who know we should “not really” be with others and that it’s not “ideal” but they have nowhere “to put us”. They suggested I speak to my GP to see if they could suggest how I could get the shot without compromising my immune system. I spoke to my GP today who said I shouldn't get it as the chemo would mean it wont work. We only have vaccination centres so even if I get a blood test I may not get the vaccine before my next round of treatment. I'm getting different info from different people. I have phoned my oncologist who didn't get back to me today.

laurie said...

Anonymous- please contact me directly. I'd love to swap notes with you about all the conflicting info.

Unknown said...

H1N1 is truly scary. But, with regards to your condition, you are facing a conflict. For you to be safe, you have first to have a test like using ELISA kits. It is not good to risk your health.

LifeMel Honey said...

Hi there,

I don't want to come off as spam at all, but sincerely want to help. I know of the immune suppressing qualities of certain things, and want to spread the message that the immune system can be boosted.

LifeMel Honey is most known for boosting the immune system, for patients undergoing chemo especially. http://www.lifemelusa.com

Please, please let me know if I can be of any help!

viagra online said...

it's a great initiative, all is about health and priorities. I think we need more blogger with this human sense and also with the informative interactions like you done here. The flu shot is meant to boost it, that's a real fact and most of the people knows the problem.

Time and Attendance said...

How about just not getting the shot?