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H1N1 flu vaccine danger minimal, but might not be necessary for everyone

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Not everyone agrees that the H1N1 flu vaccine, or any vaccine is safe. Some physicians have suggested there are H1N1 flu vaccine dangers, but not the majority. There are no guarantees that H1N1 flu vaccine carries no side effects, but so far, none have been seen. The H1N1 vaccine might not be necessary for everyone. Most people clear the H1N1 virus on their own. For healthy individuals, H1N1 flu vaccine dangers might be worrisome, compared to the risk of a mild bout of H1N1 flu.

So far, the H1N1 vaccine is short supply, meaning only those at high risk will be getting H1N1 vaccine, depending on where you live. CBS medical correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, speaking on the Early Show said, “In medicine...we can never say with 100 percent certainty that anything is safe. There are always risks. ... You have to balance proposed risks versus proposed benefits, and the risk of this virus, we know is particularly high for younger people, including children. The risks of the vaccine, which you can never say are zero as all government health officials and scientists have told us are so low, they are (immeasurable)."

Only a “handful” of physicians challenge H1N1 flu vaccine safety. An informal poll of 100 physicians, conducted by the staff of the Early Show, found that 91 physicians would recommend H1N1 flu vaccine to their patients, and only 9 said they would not due to hesitation about the safety of H1N1 flu vaccine.

Pregnant women are still encouraged to get the H1N1 flu vaccine. A recent review of the risks and benefits of H1N1 flu vaccine show that pregnant women are more at risk from not taking the vaccine.

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According to an October 27, 2009 release from the FDA, “Studies of several thousand pregnant women in the scientific literature have shown that inactivated seasonal influenza vaccines are safe during pregnancy. They have shown no evidence for harm to pregnant women, the pregnancy or to newborns of vaccinated women. In addition, FDA and CDC’s routine monitoring of adverse events has not raised safety concerns”. Pregnant women should receive H1N1 flu vaccine as well as seasonal flu vaccine.

H1N1 flu vaccine safety is challenged by some physicians – but not the majority. The vaccine has been produced hastily, but not any differently than season flu vaccine. We have had mixed messages about the dangers of H1N1 flu, which is mild for most, but for some H1N1 flu can be deadly. The H1N1 flu vaccine has been on a fast track toward production. The fact that the government has granted legal immunity to vaccine makers has also made many uneasy.

Fears about H1N1 flu vaccine dangers are likely unfounded. For some, the benefits of taking the vaccine outweigh the risks, just like seasonal flu vaccine. High risk groups are still recommended to get the H1N1 flu vaccine, especially pregnant women. For most H1N1 flu is mild. H1N1 flu vaccine is produced exactly as seasonal flu vaccine, and is being monitored even more carefully because of rapid production.

Still, people are lining up for H1N1 flu vaccine, only to be turned away. For some, there is no doubt that H1N1 flu vaccine dangers, which are minimal, but not "zero", are far less than getting H1N1 flu. Speak with your doctor about H1N1 flu vaccine to determine if you are at risk for H1N1 flu complications.