Tuesday, October 13, 2009

State health officials insist H1N1 Vaccine is Safe

By Jim Parks

If people wait until public health officials offer them
vaccination for the dreaded H1N1 swine flu that that UN
doctors have termed pandemic, "No one will be turned away,"
said a Texas state health department official. "There will
be no charge.

"Everyone who shows up that day will be shot."

The crowd in the Clifton Civic Center auditorium erupted in
giddy laughter.

"That didn't sound right," Ms. Lacy Sanders, a Disease
Coordinator for the Texas Department of State Health Service

"Everyone who shows up that day will get a shot."

More laughter.

Unless you have had full-blown anaphylactic shock, according
Ms. Sanders, the swine flu vaccine against the H1N1 virus is

Even those who have had allergic reactions to eggs should be
able to withstand a dose of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, she

Only those who have been unable to breathe because of the
sudden production of histamines and other immunological
mediators that closed off their brochial passages or caused
a sudden drop in blood pressure that triggered a
cardiovascular collapse such as the spasms caused by bee
stings or an extreme allergic reaction to penicillin should
be cautious about taking the vaccination.

"It's in a preservative-free environment, so there's no harm
at all."

Has it been tested?


Has the testing been extensive enough?

Of course, said health department representatives. The
mission is to produce a vaccine that will cause the immune
system to form antibodies. Once they are present, testing
has been entirely effective and the product has been proven

Many internet bloggers have insisted that the vaccine has
been rushed into production without a proper testing period.
There is an air of panic in the among some parts of the
population, people who fear a government grab for power.
Some of them envision concentration camps into which those
who refuse the vaccine will be imprisoned.

The Texas health officials are working hard in public
appearances to dispel these rumors.

To manufacture a live virus vaccine such as the nasal spray
recommended for people up to age 45 or a dead virus vaccine
delivered by intramuscular injection involves the act of
testing the virus as it is synthesized.

"It has been tested," Ms. Sanders inisisted as she and State
Epidemiologist Gene Mikeska presented the nuts and bolts of
the vaccination program, which is meant to target the
uninsured or underinsured.

In fact, the H1N1 virus vaccine was manufactured first in
Australia because the southern hemisphere goes into the
winter equinox at the same time the northern hemisphere
enters the summer months. "They needed it first," said Ms.

Though one to 15 percent of the population can be considered
at risk for anaphylactic shock, only about one percent who
experience it may die as a result.

If the flu has entered a pandemic state, as World Health
Organization officials termed it in June of this year, why
haven't more people been sick or died?

That's simple, according to the epidemiologist, Gene

"In a business where you make things, your productivity is
judged by what you turn out...In our business, you are
judged by what you prevent." Quite simply, when there is
little or no disease, that's when you know public health
officials are really getting the job done.

How will people get vaccinated? Health officials have
started to receive shipments of the vaccine at the present
time. It is first going to private health care providers
who ordered it months ago.

"Check with your doctor," said Ms. Sanders.

Diabetics and those who are 65 or older should see their
doctors about a pneumonia vaccination, she said. Pneumonia
is a common complication of the pandemic strain of H1N1
swine flu. "Anyone with a immunological deficiency should
be vaccinated for bacterial infections."

The vaccine will become available "around the first week in

Seasonal flu vaccine is available now. It takes two to
three weeks to become effective against infection. Those
who have been exposed to flu may already be sick but not
showing symptoms for several days. By then, it's too late.

The key, then is to be vaccinated early in the flu season
and give the system plenty of time to develop the antibodies
that will fight off the flu virus.

Nasal spray vaccine for the H1N1 virus, the kind used by
those who are less than 45 years of age, takes two to three
weeks to become effective. Dead virus vaccine, the kind
used by the elderly and diabetics or other immunologically
challenged patients, usually takes about a month.

What kind of strain of swine flu is H1N1 2009? It's a virus
that is endemic in pigs, a subtype of Influenza A. However,
transmission of the virus from pigs to humans is not common
and does not always lead to human influenza. It often leads
only to the production of human antibodies.

What about Tamiflu?

It's not effective unless you have been infected. Just
because you took Tamiflu, you won't be immune from the H1N1
virus. Besides, said Mr. Mikeska, "It costs about $125 to
$145 for a five day dosage."

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