They say in the USA, 3000 people have a heart attack every day, so if it happened to you soon after receiving the swine flu vaccine, would you blame in on the vaccination and not on the smoking, fried foods, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and the like?
A similar dilemma faced the NHS Trust in the UK a few days ago when a 14 year-old girl died soon after receiving a cervical cancer vaccine, as part of the ongoing national cervical cancer immunisation programme which has seen 1.4 million schoolgirls so far already been given this vaccine. The NHS Trust denies that the death was due to the vaccine and pins it down to a “serious underlying medical condition”, says the BBC. (Update 5th Oct 2009: It has since been confirmed that the cause of death was a large tumor in the chest involving the lungs and heart, according to the coroner. See here )
There’s no denying any vaccine, for that matter, any medication, will carry some form of side-effect. In fact, the cervical cancer vaccine (Cervarix) is widely recognised to carry quite a few, albeit minor.(see diagram).
While these side-effects are minor, it just needs a major catastrophe to cause parents to react in alarm. A possible cause of death in this young girl could be anaphylaxis ( a form of severe allergic reaction which is sometimes fatal if no immediate treatment is given), which can happen to anybody given practically any drug, although the incidence is quite rare.
Back to swine flu. Many countries, including the US, are embarking on a mass flu vaccination programme in a few weeks. In the US, health authorities hope to vaccinate well over half the population in just a few months against swine flu, which doctors call the 2009 H1N1 strain. That’s 150 million shots. So can you imagine the probable number of untoward side-effects that’s going to surface?
In the case of the swine flu vaccine, the inherent risk is going to be higher; simply because this experimental vaccine did not undergo the necessary full safety trials in view of the haste in which its production had needed to go ahead (for the technically minded, many of these vaccines have been tested up to Phase 2 only).
In children and infants, the swine flu vaccine is going to be even more hazardous. Read this article from Bristol University “Top ten reasons why Children should avoid the H1N1 flu vaccine”.
The recurring question that the public is going to ask is “How do we know the vaccine’s safe?”. In truth , we don’t know..
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