Recently, President Barack Obama declared swine flu a U.S. national emergency. His daughters, Malia (age 10) with Sasha (age 8) received their H1N1 vaccinations last week. The President and the First Lady will wait their turn as they do not meet the priority criteria. That did surprise me. I thought the world’s most powerful man would be protected first. But that is another story.
In Canada, our Prime Minister, first sounded hesitant, then changed his mind and said he plans to get the vaccine. About half of the Canadians are not sure if they would get the vaccine to prevent H1N1. What are they afraid of, side effects from the vaccine?
Except for taxes and death, there are no guarantees in life. If you are afraid of complications or dying from receiving the vaccine then look at the daily risks you take when you cross a street, drive a vehicle, fly in a plane, smoke like a chimney, drink alcohol, take any kind of medications (they all have some side effects), undergo surgery and I can go on and on.
So, here are 10 reasons why my family, my office staff and I had H1N1 vaccination (information provided here has been gathered from various very reliable sources):
1.To start with, the vaccine costs about $8 a dose. We, the tax payers, through the Federal and Provincial governments, are spending more than $400-million for the product plus the costs of administration.
2.Without vaccine and antiviral medication, between 25 and 35 per cent of the Canadian population could become ill over a period of a few months. Of the people who get the H1N1 virus, about one in 1,000 will become gravely ill and have to be hospitalized. Out of those, one in five will die.
3.H1N1 is more serious disease than common cold or seasonal flu. It is unusual for common cold or seasonal flu to infect the lungs. It is usually confined to the nose and throat and may be the upper airway. H1N1 virus also infects the airway, but in some individuals, it continues to move down and infect the lungs. The H1N1 virus causes lung infection much more often and more completely, that is why some people have ended up in intensive care units or even died from complications of the virus.
4.I believe Health Canada when it says the vaccine is safe. There are no credible reports to the contrary. Health Canada says there have been no shortcuts taken in the approval process. We have been giving flu shots for decades and this is just another flu shot. Data from Europe says that this vaccine is safe and effective.
5.Adjuvant vs. non-adjuvant. The adjuvant vaccine is made up of two natural fats: vitamin E and squalene which is a molecule your body makes (the squalene in the vaccine comes from fish oil). The adjuvanted vaccine gives a better and faster immune response than the non-adjuvanted vaccine.
6.Is squalene a problem? Reports I have read says that our liver makes squalene all the time. It is a natural compound. It has never been scientifically linked to Gulf War syndrome, an illness reported by combat veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War – fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema, and dyspepsia.
7.The preservative in the vaccine is thimerosol. Thimerosol has never been credibly linked to any health problems, including autism.
8.Nobody has died because of the vaccine. It takes about 10-14 days to develop immunity post vaccine. Influenza vaccines are not 100 per cent effective. It is possible to get H1N1 after the vaccination. However, chances are the symptoms will be milder. Getting the H1N1 vaccine does not mean you will not get sick this winter; there are other strains of flu and numerous other viruses and bacteria that circulate.
9.Pregnant women, whose immune systems are suppressed, are at high risk of complications from the flu. The World Health Organization says pregnant women should get non-adjuvanted vaccine where possible, but that an adjuvanted vaccine could be used if necessary. There are no studies to suggest that adjuvanted vaccine is harmful to pregnant women.
10.Benefits outweigh the risks of vaccination. So I did this to protect myself and the people around me.
Start reading the preview of my book A Doctor's Journey for free on Amazon. Available on Kindle for $2.99!