Should I get the H1N1 flu vaccine?
- How likely are you to get the disease?
- If you do get the disease, how severe is it likely to be? How sick could you get (or could it be fatal)?
- If you did get sick, how likely are you to pass the disease to someone else for whom it may be more severe?
- Are there other effective things you can do to reduce these risks?
- How effective is the vaccine?
- What are the risks of the vaccine – long and short term?
contracting the swine flu.
- You or someone in your immediate family/social network work on or around a pig farm.
- You or someone in your immediate family/social network are a healthcare worker.
- You are a pregnant woman.
- You have a pre-existing medical condition that affects your lungs or immune function.
- H1N1 viruses reappeared in 1976/77 and caused major outbreaks mainly in those aged 25 or younger over the following few years.
- The 2009 H1N1 virus is also closely related to a series of human virus outbreaks from 1918–1956.
- This is why younger people are more vulnerable to the swine flu, whereas people born before 1957 have been largely protected against the new pandemic virus.
- As of 17 October 2009, worldwide there have been more than 414,000 laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 and nearly 5000 deaths reported to WHO.
- There are somewhere around 500,000 deaths (worldwide) attributable to the seasonal flu in any given year.
- Approximately 99% of adults who got the vaccine developed seroprotection. (That means it worked.) This is an excellent rate of seroprotection!
- Typically, seroprotection provides about 85% protection against the virus. (15% of people will still get sick if they come in contact with the virus, but may have milder symptoms.)
- A single dose of the vaccine appears to be sufficient.
- Duration of protection has not been established.
- The vaccine has not yet been studied in children or seniors.
- Pregnant women are advised against the regular vaccine (should instead consider a variation that does not contain the protein-primer/adjuvants).
- People who are severely allergic to eggs should not get this vaccine.
- Avoid the H1N1 vaccine if you’re received another flu vaccine with the last 8 weeks.
- However, you can get the regular seasonal flu vaccine at the same time as the H1N1 vaccine (in different arms.)
- Public Health Agency of Canada’s website reveals findings that healthy adults that tested positive for H1N1 were twice as likely to have received seasonal vaccine. This suggests that the seasonal flu vaccine may make you more susceptible to the H1N1 virus.
- GBS is an auto-immune reaction against myelin, which is the sheath around nerve cells.
- In Canada, the current reported risk of developing GBS after regular seasonal influenza vaccination is around 1 in 1,000,000.
- In 1976, the incidence of GBS after H1N1 vaccination was more than 1 in 100,000.
- While there is evidence of causal link between the vaccine and the increased incidence of GBS, the definitive reason was never established.
- sodium chloride
- disodium hydrogen phosphate
- potassium dihydrogen phosphate
- potassium chloride
- trace residual amounts of egg proteins
- sodium deoxycholate
- Thimerosal remains “associated” with a number of neurological conditions (eg: Autism spectrum disorders.)
- This association has not borne out to be conclusively “causative.”
- Because causation can not be clearly attributed to thimerosal, many medical professionals assume minute doses are safe.
- Others would suggest that the compelling association is reason enough to be wary until the link between thimerosal and neuro-degeneration is definitively resolved.
- We used to think of risk of toxicity in terms of dosage. Tiny doses of even major toxins were considered fairly safe. Recent studies on Bisphenol-A make it clear that our understanding of dose-dependent toxicity is far from concrete.
“Supply and safety issues surrounding an H1N1 vaccine.” Lancet. 2009 Aug 1;374(9687):358)
Alberta Health and Wellness website information on H1N1 virus, statistics and vaccine (http://www.health.alberta.ca/health-info/influenza-H1N1-cases.html)
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website MSDS sheet for Formaldehyde solutions (http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/chem_profiles/formaldehyde/health_for.html#_1_10)
GlaxoSmithKline2009 Canada. Arepanrix™ H1N1 (AS03-adjuvanted H1N1 pandemic influenza vaccine) Product Information Leaflet. 2009.
Hébert P, MacDonald N. “The H1N1 vaccine race: Can we beat the pandemic?” CMAJ. 2009 Oct 13; 181
Langmuir AD, Bregman DJ, Kurland LT, et al “An epidemiologic and clinical evaluation of Guillain-Barre syndrome reported in association with the administration of swine influenza vaccines.”
Am J Epidemiol 1984;119(6):841-79.
Pellegrini M, Nicolay U, Lindert K et al. MF59-adjuvanted versus non-adjuvanted influenza vaccines: integrated analysis from a large safety database. Vaccine 2009 Sep. 12. (Epub ahead of print). doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.08.101.
Public Health Agency of Canada website (http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/alert-alerte/h1n1/guidance_lignesdirectrices-eng.php