The Swine Last Time

Does my 1976 inoculation still work, or doesn’t it?

Click here to read more from Slate on swine flu.

Q:I had the swine flu shot during the previous outbreak in 1976. Am I still immune to this form of flu, or has the shot’s effect worn off by now?

A: Good question. The answer is probably yes, you do have some immunity, although it has been 30 years. There are two caveats—your immunity might be waning, and secondly, we do not know yet what the precise composition of the new virus is and how closely it matches the earlier swine flu outbreak.

Interview with Peter Palese, infectious-disease expert at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Washington Post, April 28, 2009

Does the 1976 vaccine still exist and would it work against this strain?

No, those stockpiles are gone, and the old vaccine likely would not work against this strain, which is a combination of swine, avian and human viruses that has not been seen before. (Experts now believe the 1918 virus began in birds, not pigs.)

Melinda Beck, “ Seeking Lessons From the Past To Fight Flu,” Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2009