This Week in Swine Flu: Vaccine Coming Soon, But What Do Parents Think?

By Eliza Strickland | September 25, 2009 3:26 pm

swine-flu-newsNow that the first vaccines against swine flu are about to become available, scientists are busy working out the details of how the vaccines can best be administered. Researchers already knew that a single dose was sufficient to protect adults, and they’ve now found that one shot works for teenagers and children over the age of 10. But young children who have never had the flu or a flu shot, however, need two doses, they said…. Children 6 months to 9 years old received some protection from one shot, but not enough, so health officials will recommend that they get two shots 21 days apart [The New York Times].

At least 6 million doses of vaccine will be available the first week of October, federal health officials announced today, and this first batch is in the form of a nasal spray called FluMist. The intranasal vaccine has not been approved for children younger than 2, adults older than 49 or pregnant women, so it may go primarily to healthcare providers [Los Angeles Times]. Injectable vaccines should make it to doctors’ offices a week or two later.

New York State has taken the drastic step of requiring that all hospital, home health and hospice workers get the swine flu vaccine. Experts say the mandatory vaccination will protect not just the workers, but also their patients. But some workers are upset by the edict. Health workers’ union official Joel Shufro says the unions do not oppose vaccination “but we oppose a mandatory program,” he said. “This is: ‘You don’t get the shot, you’re fired’” [The New York Times].

Despite public health officials’ campaign to educate the public about swine flu and the benefits of the vaccines, a new poll of 1,678 U.S. parents found that only 40 percent would get their children immunized. About half of the parents who said they’d pass on the H1N1 flu shot for their kids expressed concern about possible side effects of the vaccine [Los Angeles Times]. Other parents said that they don’t think swine flu is a serious illness, or said that they don’t expect their children to catch the virus. These findings may pose a problem for health officials, who say schoolchildren are extremely likely to spread swine flu.

Even though vaccine-makers are turning out as many doses as they can, the World Health Organization said Thursday that there won’t be enough vaccine for the whole world, since pharmaceutical companies worldwide can only produce 3 billion doses per year. The WHO is concerned that poorer countries may not receive as much vaccine as they need, since those countries will depend largely on donations. Most rich nations have contracts with drug makers to obtain enough vaccine to cover their entire populations, it said…. The WHO said it would begin an initial distribution of some 300 million doses of vaccine donated by rich nations to more than 90 developing countries from November [Reuters].

Related Content:
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: Vaccines Approved!, Masks vs. Hand-Washing
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: Good News on Vaccines, Bad News in China
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: Elmo, Mobile Apps, & Back-to-School Fears
80beats: This Week in Swine Flu: How Many Deaths, Vaccine in Sight & Tough Oldsters

Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • J

    The swine flu was first found in humans in 1918. The first (I believe) swine/H1N1 vaccination was used on millions of Americans in 1976 and is the cause of neurological problems for many of those people.

    Swine flu is NOT as bad as the media/govt wants you to think. Most any person with a relatively-good immune system can overcome it without any problem. Bed rest/chicken soup/vitamin C anyone?

    I know I won’t be getting this “vaccine”. Never had a flu shot my entire life.

  • nick

    Actually, there are many variants of H1N1 – and viruses have been around longer than our race. But you are correct, swine flu is not bad. Check out the following disease mortality rates as put together by the excellent blog Information is Beautiful (no affiliation)

    As you can see, the seasonal flu is about 20 times more likely to kill a person.

  • Sam

    J, the 1976 vaccine caused Guillain-Barre in a tiny percentage of the total vaccinated. Infection with influenza is a much greater risk factor for Guillain-Barre than the flu vaccine, and it’s possible that the 1976 strain had a greater potential for causing Guillain-Barre than other flu strains. That could be the reason the 1976 vaccine caused GB in a very small percentage. Infection with the strain may have caused even more cases than the vaccine.

    The government is not hyping the risk of the current pandemic H1N1 strain. It’s accurately reporting that the morbidity and mortality are similar to seasonal flu. You’re probably getting your information from disreputable sites that misprepresent mainstream science in order to create a strawman. However, since most people have no prior immunity to this strain there are going to be many more infections, and that means there will be many more deaths from flu this season assuming people don’t get vaccinated.

    Vitamin C megadosing and chicken soup do not have efficacy against the flu. Congratulations on never having gotten a flu shot in your life, I applaud your efforts to remain a source of infection for vulnerable members of our society.

    Nick, That site has the mortality rate for seasonal flu at 9.4%. That is absurdly high, it’s actually 0.1%.

  • Ivan Roppel

    What’s in the regular flu shot? Take a look and make up your own mind if you will put this into yourself or your kids. There are many doctors and researchers who advise strenuously against taking the swine flu shot (or any flu shot).

    Swine Flu Shot consists of (courtesy of Dr. Russel Blaylock’s website)

    •Egg proteins: including avian contaminant viruses
    •Gelatin: known to cause allergic reactions and anaphylaxis are usually
    •associated with sensitivity to egg or gelatin
    •Polysorbate 80 (Tween80™): can cause severe allergic reactions,
    •including anaphylaxis
    •Formaldehyde: known carcinogen
    •Triton X100: a strong detergent
    •Sucrose: table sugar
    •Resin: known to cause allergic reactions
    •Gentamycin: an antibiotic
    •Thimerosal: mercury is still in multidose vials

  • Sam

    Ivan, hey that’s nice. Now your next necessary step it to show that those ingredients cause harm at the levels in the vaccine, otherwise your list is meaningless. Looks like you got some science to do. Get back to us.

    Egg protein! [Gasp] Gelatin and sugar! [Egads] A mercury compound not linked to any health problem at the relevant concentration despite many epidemiogical studies! [The Horror!]

    What bridge are you guys crawling out from under?

  • Shocked

    We’ve had a flu season every single year for the last century. And every single year, we made it through.

    But now that the USA is facing economic collapse, all citizens must queue up for their mandatory and inadequately tested “treatment”. I’m sure this is merely a coincidence.

  • Christina Viering

    Should be interesting.

  • Em

    Has anyone thought of maybe washing their hands before they eat and not sharing foods and drinks with others? Honestly, I think that if people used a little common sense (which oddly enough is the least common virtue these days) and practiced some basic hygiene we could all avoid contracting and spreading many illnesses.

    I’m not saying this is the answer for everything and everyone. For those people who have a weaker immune system it could very well be beneficial to get vaccines. However, I don’t think everyone needs to rush out and get every new treatment the moment it comes out because “someone with a medical degree said it helps”. People really need to think for themselves and not turn into this paranoid flock of sheep that is so easily herded by everyone “above” them. Just my opinion.

  • goulet

    A flu shot can never hurt. But I doubt this one will help. The danger H1N1 poses is if it mutates. In that case, what’s the point of the current vaccine, which is for the relatively harmless version we’re dealing with right now.

    I seriously doubt this has anything to do with economic collapse. People are just concerned because of the possibility of this flu to become truly horrible. It’s new, it can still become deadly. That’s exactly what happened with the Spanish flu.

    but I agree with Em. Wash your hands.

  • Sam

    Flu is mostly transmitted by aerosolized droplets so washing hands will only provide limited preventive protection.

    Em, we “sheep” are being herded by our superior thinking skills, not our blind trust in the medical establishment. Flu causes 35,000 deaths in a typical season in the US, and this season it looks like the number of infections will be much higher, meaning more people will die. Also, swine H1N1 is showing a propensity to infect young people at a rate much higher than seasonal flu. We are in favor of vaccination because we don’t like being sick for a week, and because we don’t want to be another link in the chain of infection that could lead to the death of a susceptible person.

    You are not a maverick, Em, millions of Americans think exactly like you do, which is a big problem.

  • Ryan

    In that case, what’s the point of the current vaccine, which is for the relatively harmless version we’re dealing with right now.

    The more aggressively we vaccinate against the swine flu we have now; the fewer chances the virus will have to mutate. I agree with you that there is a significant threat from a mutated virus, but the best way to prevent that is to fight the virus already out there as much as we can. And using drugs and vaccines to fight H1N1 won’t necessarily lead to a more virulent mutation, because all the selective pressure on the virus will be to mutate towards something that resist tamiflu/vaccination. I think our efforts make sense from every angle.

  • broadcaster

    Thanks Sam! I am glad that there is an intelligent voice of reason out there.

    I am not getting the vaccine because I want to get the flu. I don’t usually get more than a twinge of flu, but I seem to make everyone around me sick every year.

    I live, commute and work in Chicago, and we’ve turned the city(and the planet) into a sewer. There are just too darned many of us to sustain ourselves, and something has to be done.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a flight to catch.


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