“Are Flu Shots and Swine Flu Vaccines Safe After Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Jackie

By Adam Pick on October 27, 2009

Considering the recent Swine Flu outbreak, I’ve received several emails about flu shots and heart valve surgery.

I just opened a note from Jackie that reads, “Hi Adam – I recently had mitral valve replacement with a pig valve due to severe regurgitation. I’m curious to know if there is any reason I >should not get a flu shot or an H1N1 vaccine? Thanks! Jackie”


Swine Flu Vaccine After Heart Surgery


As I really do not like being sick, I’ve always been a flu shot fan. However, after my heart valve replacement surgery, I found myself wondering, “Could a flu shot cause some form of complication after open heart surgery?”

To answer that question, I contacted my surgeon. In discussing this topic with Doctor Starnes’ office, I learned there were no apparent issues for patients getting flu shots after heart valve surgery.

However, with the new Swine Flu vaccine, I found myself thinking, “Is it safe to get the H1N1 vaccine?”

This time, I decided to contact Dr. Eric Roselli, M.D., heart surgeon at The Cleveland Clinic, to learn more about swine flu and heart surgery patients. In response, Dr. Roselli noted, “According to our infectious disease specialist, the vaccine should be fine.”


Eric Roselli, MD - Heart Surgeon, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio
Dr. Eric Roselli, M.D. – Heart Surgeon
The Cleveland Clinic


As of Friday, 16.1 million doses of swine flu vaccine were ready for shipping, and over 11 million doses had been sent out to state health authorities.

You should know that the symptoms of swine flu and seasonal flu are very similar. According to MedicineNet, the symptoms are virtually the same — fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and chills. Yet, experts say that swine flu is more contagious, and seems to affects a younger age group.

I hope this helps you learn more about flu shots, the swine flu vaccine and heart valve surgery.

Keep on tickin!

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

George says on October 28th, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Great question – I had been asking myself the same question over the past couple of weeks. I am happy somebody asked it, and I value the answer of the Doctor from the Cleveland Clinic. Although I trust my Family Practioner – I would bet the Cleveland Clinic would have more up to date information on it. Thanks again!

Lisa says on October 28th, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Flu shots (both seasonal and H1N1) are a good idea as most of us are in a higher risk group for secondary infections. Both types of injectable flu vaccines are made in the same manner. In fact, if the H1N1 virus had been discovered sooner it would have been included in the seasonal vaccine and there would not have to be separate injections.

The flu mist (nasal vaccine) may not be acceptable though, for those of us that are considered to have “Heart disease.” Be sure to ask your doctor.

I work as an RN in Public Health, so have had to do a lot of research on this matter. Always talk to your personal physician to ensure the right care for you individually.

Wilmer Brown says on October 28th, 2009 at 2:32 pm

My Aortic valve was replaced with a Mechanical one on 2 June o8. On 27th of October 08 I had my flue shot and it did’nt bother me. My Doctor has told me that being over 65 i can get by with just the regular flushot.

Richard Canaan says on October 28th, 2009 at 5:31 pm

I had surgery on 30 Sept. Had pig valve put in with major aorta repair. I was released from Dr. Starnes office 26 October to return to my local cardiologist. I to asked the question about the H1N1 shot before leaving the office and the answer I recieved was – do not get the H1N1 shot.

Welcome other comments to help me decide…


Sean R. says on October 28th, 2009 at 6:07 pm

I had my 60-year-old aortic (bicuspid) valve and aortic root replaced in Aug. 2008 with a bovine tissue valve and an aortic root dacron graft. I had the regular flu shot about 2 weeks ago – no problems. I will have the H1N1 shot tomorrow. My doctor said to go ahead with both.

Dale P. says on October 28th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Sean, I’m having the same surgery on Monday (11/2/09), using the same materials, and I’m just a little bit younger than you are. Would love to hear about your experience.

I’ve been asking everywhere for an H1N1 shot for me and my family, and nobody has any (or admits to it, anyway). I’m in greater Boston. If anybody has a lead on some, please let me know!

Duane Brown says on October 28th, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Swine flu vaccine many years ago killed many more people than the swine flu itself. I’m wondering why that was and if there can be a similar result this time.

Kathy says on October 30th, 2009 at 12:36 am

As a note on this subject, I’m having arotic heart valve surgery in December, & was told by Cleveland Clinic Heart Dept. not to have flu shot any later than 3 weeks BEFORE surgery.

Janet says on October 31st, 2009 at 2:08 am

Adam: I had an aortic valve replaced with a bovine one on June 8. I just had a visit to my dentist for my regular 6-month checkup. He told me to take an antibiotic an hour before my visit which I did. He discovered an abcess on one of my teeth and said that tooth was not worth trying to save with a root canal and he would have to pull it. My question is have you or anyone had this type of surgery and how long should you take antibiotics prior to the extraction? Thanks, Janet

Cheryl Irvine says on November 4th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Adam, I am 5 weeks MVP with regurgitation post-op and just today saw my surgeon for my follow-up. I asked about getting the H1N1 flu shot and he said getting one should not be a problem. He too was vaccinated. Cheryl, Ontario, Canada

dominic molesse says on January 10th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

is this information still relevant after 3+ years. i just had open heart 4x bypass 5 weeks ago and i am considering getting a flu shot. has there been any new info to suggest not getting the shot???

Randy Smith says on October 16th, 2017 at 9:20 am

3 months ago I had my mitral valve and Aortic valve replace plus tricuspid valve repaired.
I’ve had my flu shot a week ago.
Is was told to get shingles shot then wait to get phemonia shots but the phemonia shots a year a part is this safe and correct.
Thanks Randy

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