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Don’t Believe Irrational Advice on the Swine Flu Vaccine

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I keep getting phone calls and voice mails about the H1N1 vaccines so thought another update would be timely.

There still seems to be a lot of “unfounded” concern about the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine, most of which is not based on scientific evidence but on anecdote and conjecture. As evidence of that, even Bill Maher is weighing in with his NON-scientific opinion telling people that they “were idiots if they took the swine flu vaccine”. What an irresponsible statement. I wonder if he even has children? Has he seen the statistics on pediatric deaths, which now total 83 since April of 2009?

As we are already seeing the swine flu is especially virulent and has a very high “attack” rate for children and young adults. It seems that children between the ages of five and 20 are especially susceptible. For some reason, older individuals, who are typically most prone to the seasonal influenza and complications, are not getting infected with this virus. During the spring, summer and now into the fall, the H1N1 virus has continued to spread and it is not clear if the “swine flu” has even peaked as more states are reporting widespread H1N1 disease. I wish I knew what lay ahead.

The 2009 seasonal influenza vaccine was beginning to be produced this spring, about the time that H1N1 came into the picture. Because the components of this year’s flu vaccine did not include H1N1 and the fact that this disease spread quite quickly, it was decided that a separate (shall we say, adjunct) flu vaccine be produced against H1N1. The H1N1 vaccine is being produced in the same facilities, in the same manner, and by the same manufacturers as the 2009 seasonal flu vaccine. The vaccine manufacturers are working overtime to try and produce enough of both seasonal and swine flu vaccine to be distributed this fall and into the early winter months. This very unusual scenario (two flu shots in one season) is being recommended to provide the most protection possible against getting influenza and hopefully reducing influenza related complications and deaths.

Unfortunately, as vaccine manufacturers (and there are not that many) are trying to produce two flu vaccines, we are beginning to see shortages of seasonal flu vaccine, just as limited doses of H1N1 vaccine are beginning to be distributed.

This is a unique year, so stay tuned for more information. But bottom line, when the H1N1 vaccine is available, get if for your children, this virus is still here and unfortunately it seems to have two masks, in other words, it is either fairly mild, or deadly for some. Don’t risk not getting the vaccine because a comedian/talk show host tells you not to.

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