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Does Seasonal Flu Shot Double Chances Of Swine Flu?

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, September 25, 2009 10:46 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Influenza, Flu, Swine Flu, H1N1, CDC, WHO

Canadian researchers find the seasonal flu shot may double your chances of getting swine flu.



IMAGE SOURCE: World Health Organization (WHO)

Members of the public health community in Canada are buzzing about a series of studies that seem to show people who got a seasonal flu shot last year are twice as likely to come down with the swine flu as those who didn’t.

The studies in three Canadian provinces are detailed in a yet unpublished scientific paper that been submitted to a medical journal by scientists at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.

Known as “the Canadian problem” by some scientists, word of the data is spreading through Canada and worldwide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to go through the data to see if it is correct or flawed before it deters people from getting a seasonal flu shot.

“Because now that it’s out, everybody feels that we must go to the bottom of it and see what’s real there” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, who heads the WHO’s vaccine research initiative.

The researchers have submitted the paper to an unnamed scientific journal and cannot discuss it until it is published. The paper was authored by Dr. Gaston De Serres of Laval University and by Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.

Officials at the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are aware of the studies, too, and have looked for similar evidence in the U.S. but have reportedly found none. Researchers in Australia and Britain say they have also yet to see such a link.

“It is difficult to speak about a study that has yet to be published, however, as this is an important issue involving the subject of seasonal influenza and the fast moving global pandemic of 2009 H1N1 influenza it is important to note the scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not seen this effect in systems we have reviewed in the United States,” said spokesman Joe Quimby by e-mail to Canada’s Healthzone.

The lack of corroboration among scientists is thought to be a red flag.

The chief microbiologist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Donald Low, is reserving judgment on the studies but says delaying use of the seasonal flu shots and concentrating on first dispensing the swine flu vaccine makes sense.

“If we’re trying to protect people,” Low said, “this is the virus we should be trying to protect them against.” Swine flu cases have been increasingly reported in the U.S. and parts of Canada.

Even as further details of the new studies are anxiously awaited, Low says there is a need for the “gold standard” of studies - a prospective randomized controlled study to determine, once and for all, whether getting a seasonal flu shot doubles your chances of catching swine flu. #

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Paul Revere
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 1:38 PM EST

Canwest News Service
September 29, 2009
B.C. might suspend the seasonal flu shots as early as today, in the wake of a Canadian study that suggests people who get the flu vaccine are twice as likely to contract the H1N1 virus.
Several news outlets reported the preliminary findings of the study, which is still under peer review. Researchers found that those who received the seasonal flu vaccine in the past were more likely to catch H1N1.
While the research was initially met with much skepticism from health officials, several provinces, including Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia, have suspended seasonal flu shots for anyone younger than 65, the Globe and Mail newspaper is reporting in its Monday editions.

Comments for this article are closed.

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