Info on actual swine flu injections

Discussion in 'General Health & Wellness' started by TwoCatDoctors, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    "Flu shots are made from a dead virus, King said, and it's therefore impossible for the shot to give anyone the flu. A second type of vaccine, a nasal spray called FluMist, is made of a live virus, but it's been weakened and also cannot spread the flu."}


    Doctors battle flu vaccine myths in Boulder County
    First swine flu vaccines will arrive in mid-October
    By Laura Snider Camera Staff Writer
    Posted: 09/26/2009 11:26:15 PM MDT

    Learn more about H1N1 at , the federal government's one-stop flu-information Web site. H1N1home/home.htm , Boulder County Public Health department's H1N1 home page. , where you can find statistics on H1N1 in Colorado, answers to frequently asked questions and help finding a flu clinic near you. , which offers a tally of the total number of students with flu-like symptoms at the University of Colorado, along with helpful tips on how to avoid spreading the flu.

    In another week, the first doses of swine flu vaccine -- more than 6 million of them -- will begin to trickle down from the drug manufacturers through the states to local public health clinics and private doctors' offices that serve high-risk populations.

    In Boulder County, that will likely mean that the first doses will be sent to hospitals and other places that can reach health care workers, doctors working with kids and pregnant women, and the public health department's immunization clinics in Boulder and Longmont.

    The 6 million doses are double what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention originally thought would be available in early October. Earlier this month, scientists announced that a single dose will protect people older than 10 against swine flu -- instead of two shots -- vastly increasing the effective supply of the vaccine.

    The Boulder County Public Health department says there should be plenty of shots available locally to ward off swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus. Between 20,000 and 40,000 doses are scheduled to arrive in mid-October, and that same amount will be delivered every week after throughout the fall. The problem, however, may be convincing people to get one.

    "We don't know how people are going to react to getting vaccinated to H1N1," said Nisha Alden, who heads the communicable disease division of the Boulder County Public Health Department. "There is some fear of vaccines in general, most of which are not based on scientific fact, but we are definitely encouraging everybody to get vaccinated."

    Myths spread faster than the flu

    Nationally, only 36 percent of people older than 6 months got vaccinated for the seasonal flu last year, according to the CDC.

    "There are lots of myths about flu and flu vaccines, which make it difficult to get people vaccinated every year and will undoubtedly make it difficult this year," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in a briefing with reporters Friday. "Misinformation spreads more rapidly, even, than the flu."

    Boulder County does not keep track of how many residents get seasonal flu vaccines each year, but many local doctors -- who point to lower-than-average childhood vaccination rates in Boulder County -- believe that the percentage of people who get seasonal flu shots is likely below the national average.

    "It's a huge problem here. There's an inexhaustible mine of misinformation," said Boulder pediatrician Francesco Beuf, whose office is seeing "just loads of kids with the flu."

    On average, 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population comes down with the seasonal flu each year. In contrast, the CDC estimated in the summer that 40 percent of people could become infected this fall with the swine flu, a novel strain of the flu virus that people under the age of 65 appear to have little background immunity to. Even so, doctors are worried that it may be even harder to get Americans vaccinated for the swine flu than the seasonal flu.

    Swine flu shot scares

    It's likely that the hesitation to get a swine flu shot is tied, in part, to the fact that the swine flu vaccine is new, and something new can be scary when it comes to vaccines, according to Boulder County health officials. But fears may also be lingering over the last swine flu vaccine, which was offered in 1976 to protect people from a predicted flu epidemic that never materialized.

    During that year, the swine flu shot was associated with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a disease that causes the body to damage its own nerve cells, causing extreme muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Most people who contract the disease eventually recover. For reasons that experts still don't understand, the swine flu vaccine appeared to add one extra Guillain-Barré case per 100,000 people.

    The nerve disease has not been associated with flu vaccines since, and doctors say that this year's swine flu vaccine is nothing different, or even particularly special, when compared to the yearly run-of-the-mill vaccine.

    "Over 100 million flu vaccines were given last year," said the CDC's Frieden. "The H1N1 doses were made by the same manufacturers in the same factories with the same mechanism with the same safety precautions. We are confident that there's every reason to believe that this vaccine is safe."

    No one stays flu-free forever

    Mark King, a doctor at Boulder Community Hospital's Beacon Center for Infectious Disease, has heard it all when it comes to the supposed dangers of flu vaccines.

    "The most common reason I hear for not getting vaccinated is that, 'It gives me the flu,'" he said. "The other big myth is, 'I never get the flu,' or that the vaccine doesn't work."

    Flu shots are made from a dead virus, King said, and it's therefore impossible for the shot to give anyone the flu. A second type of vaccine, a nasal spray called FluMist, is made of a live virus, but it's been weakened and also cannot spread the flu.

    The myth that vaccines cause the flu is probably due, in part, to the fact that it takes about two weeks for the body to start making the antibodies that protect against the flu. If a person is exposed to the flu during that time, it's still possible to get sick. And FluMist, while not causing the flu, can cause some vey mild, flu-like side effects, such as runny noses, coughs and chills.

    And just because you haven't gotten the flu before doesn't mean you can't get it now, King said. There is no such thing as a naturally flu-free person.

    "Not getting the flu does not mean there's anything special about that person," King said. "It means they didn't get exposed to the virus that season."

    Finally, the myth that flu vaccines don't work probably derived from the fact that formulating a flu shot for a flu that hasn't hit the population yet can be a bit of a guessing game. Each year, flu vaccines available in the United States are based on what the flu strain looked like in North America at the end of last winter, and what the flu is doing in the Southern Hemisphere over the summer. Some years, the match is more perfect than others.

    The perfect match

    In the case of the swine flu, the vaccine is well-matched to the H1N1 strain, which doesn't seem to be mutating.

    "The lab studies show that there has been no significant change in the genetic makeup of this circulating H1N1 virus," Frieden said Friday. "That's really good news. That means that the vaccine that we have is a very good match, in fact an excellent match, with the virus that continues to circulate."

    Frieden and his colleagues at the CDC are confident that the vaccine will work, but now they are in a race against time to get to people before the flu bug does.

    The CDC has quit keeping track of individual swine flu cases, but they are monitoring the general movement of the flu and posting state-by-state updates each Friday. Between Sept. 18 and Sept. 25, the CDC changed the status of the flu in Colorado from "regional" to "widespread," its worst flu epidemic designation.

    Last week, the Colorado Department of Public Health announced that there have been 171 flu-related hospitalizations since the beginning of the month. In Boulder County, there were eight flu-related hospitalizations as of Friday morning and one child with underlying health conditions has died. In most cases, the flu strains have not been positively identified as swine flu, but the vast majority of flu cases in this early season are likely from the H1N1 virus, doctors said.

    "We'd like to have the vaccine now because that would be the ideal time," said the Beacon Center's King. "But it's still going to have a very important role."

    In the meantime, there are always other, simpler, measures people can take to protect themselves.

    "There are some things about the flu that aren't surprising," said Boulder County's Alden. "We know that we can wash our hands and stop spreading it."

  2. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    It would be neat if the doc at Boulder Community Hospital would share the research data & studies that support some of his comments.

    My guess is that this Dr. King of Boulder, quoted in the article above, is primarily a clinician. One whose job, primarily, is getting people vaccinated.

    Dr. King says: killed virus can't **give** you the flu ...-- Flu Mist can't **spread** the flu.

    DUH. Vectors (usually animals or insects) spread disease.

    Live vaccines have been used for a long, long time. The *first* vaccines -- Louis Pasteur et al. -- were live vaccines.

    Despite significant modifications since the early efforts, all live vaccine carries some risk of disease for those who are vaccinated.

    I find Dr. King's remarks to be quite astonishing, from a scientific viewpoint.

    >>FluMist, while not causing the flu, can cause some vey mild, flu-like side effects, such as runny noses, coughs and chills.>>

    This is playing with words. You give someone live flu virus & then they start having coughs & chills. That's a side effect of live virus, sure. It's called FLU.

    Most past studies I am familiar with indicate that individuals who receive live virus often "shed" -- that is, pass virus on to those around them.

    But I'm sure our trusted colleagues would simply tag that 'another side effect.'

    Best wishes.
  3. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    We're going to have to accept there are three sides to this. Those who feel there is no harm in the shots and who will get them, and those who feel there are harm in the shots and won't get them, and those who are probably waiting on the sidelines to see how the initial shots go before they get their shots. I can't find fault with anyone who feels any of those ways.