Rushing the H1N1 vaccine is maybe not such a great idea

“New vaccines never behave in the way you expect them to.”

That ominous observation comes from Dr. Tom Jefferson, who is the coordinator of the vaccines section of Cochrane Collaboration, a research review association.

Even more ominous: His comment appears in a news article that reveals a disturbing concern about the H1N1 vaccine.

Recently, the Health Protection Agency (UK’s FDA) sent a letter to about 600 neurologists alerting them to the possibility that the H1N1 vaccine may prompt Guillain- Barre syndrome (GBS), a paralyzing immune system disorder.

As I mentioned in the e-Alert “Model Behavior” (7/14/09), more than 500 people who received the H1N1 vaccine in 1976 were diagnosed with GBS. Twenty-five of those patients died, while only one death was linked to H1N1.

NPR reports that this newest H1N1 vaccine is being rushed through production and testing so the first doses can be available this month. And that’s about the LEAST reassuring health news I’ve heard in a long time.

Think of all the drugs that have gone through a comparatively rigorousH1N1 vaccine and then later turned out to be dangerous enough to be pulled from market. The big difference is that an individual drug targets specific health concerns, so its use is limited. The H1N1 vaccine is intended for nearly everyone – especially school-age children.

Meanwhile, Health and Human Resources officials fear that the seasonal flu shot will be ignored in favor of the H1N1 shot. So this week they’ve started recommending that everyone get their seasonal flu vaccine now, and then get the H1N1 shot when it’s available.

And that’s REALLY rolling the dice, because you can be certain there is zero knowledge of how these two vaccines might interact.

This ride is starting to get very scary. Stay tuned…

Sources:

“Swine Flu Jab Link to Killer Nerve Disease: Leaked Letter Reveals Concern of Neurologists Over 25 Deaths in America” Jo Macfarlane, Daily Mail, 8/15/09, dailymail.co.uk
“Panel Calls H1N1 ‘Serious Health Threat'” Deborah Tedford, NPR, 8/24/09, npr.org