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19 November 2009 @ 11:30 pm
I'm going on about vaccines again!  
I had my H1N1 vaccine this morning. No side effects so far, and it didn't even hurt! I far prefer flu vaccines to tetanus!

But the most exciting thing for me was reading the government information leaflet -- it's really good! Along with a section explaining that Panvax is not a live vaccine, so it's perfectly safe for foetuses (H1N1 influenza disproportionately causes miscarriage and serious maternal illness), it had a section addressing Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). GBS is a serious neurological syndrome that unexpectedly affected about 500 people in New Jersey after a mass vaccination programme in the US in 1976. Since then, there has not been another proven connection between flu vaccines and GBS, and the research done on the event suggests that it was probably a single batch infected with campylobacter, a known precursor to GBS (and a REALLY horrible stomach illness, trust me!)

Since 1976, although GBS has been raised as a concern by people who are not in favour of mass vaccination, there has not been any proof of a subsequent link between GBS rates and flu vaccination. Nevertheless, because governments and scientists generally err on the side of caution, a risk of 1 additional case of GBS per million vaccinations is given, and is stated on the Australian information sheet. Something aside from campylobacter that is known to cause GBS is influenza, and, as the info sheet says: "you are four to seven times more likely to contract GBS after an attack of the actual influenza than after the vaccination".

In actual fact, the risk of GBS from influenza seems to be more in the realm of forty times more likely, as rates are around 4 to 7 per 100,000 cases of influenza.

However, reading that paragraph in the surgery, I gave a little cheer. FINALLY a statement of risk that contextualises it sanely!

Why does this matter? Because people are being told by bad media reports and social networking scares that flu vaccine is not safe, that it contains chemicals that are known to cause harm and that it is not tested. In fact, H1N1 vaccines around the world are being made by the same companies that make seasonal flu vaccines, using the exact same methods. Flu vaccines save tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of lives every year, with excellent safety records. Most, like Panvax, contain no live vaccine -- people who are allergic to eggs are offered a version with live vaccine in many places, including the US, as it is safer for them.

H1N1, on the other hand, is not a safe nor mild disease. It has had a very serious impact on people between 20 and 50, who are normally minimally affected by seasonal flus. In fact, the death toll for old people, the usual flu victims, is statistically low for H1N1. And the people aged 20-50 being affected are not the usual immune-compromised set, either, but both the healthy and those whose only health issue is being overweight. If you're up for it, check out this excellent article from New Scientist on swine flu myths and how they are endangering people's health.

Having seen the incredible impact of H1N1 on the health system in Australia last year -- a warm country in which flu is not as dangerous as it is in cold countries -- I had no hesitation in getting the jab. Well, aside from my usual disorganisation delay ... Fourteen hours later, not even localised swelling. And if you're in Australia and have a Medicare card, it's free! Obviously, talk to your doctor and read the info from your health authorities if you have concerns.

You can read the Australian info sheet as a PDF, downloaded from here, it's available in several languages in the vaccination information sheet category down at the bottom right.
E McGeemelusinahp on November 19th, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
I am between 20 and 50 and overweight and they will not give it to me because I'm not immune compromised or diabetic. Grr.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 19th, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
Sorry! Vaccines are one of the things Australia does well: it's been a traditional area of research and manufacturing here, and we have a small population so shortages are very unusual.

It may be worth your while protesting the decision with your local authority, given the clear indication that overweight is a serious risk factor. At the very least, they might give you one to shut you up ;-)

And I am about to email you!
(no subject) - marguerite_26 on November 19th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - melusinahp on November 19th, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on November 19th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Kieranfilmatleven on November 19th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this, love, I appreciate it =)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 19th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
I promised! Do remember that yours is a different vaccine, but I believe that the non-live version in the US is substantively similar to Australian Panvax.

Since typing the above, I have accidentally bumped my arm with the injection site FIVE TIMES. I think that I am subconsciously testing my assertions ;-) Still doesn't hurt!
(no subject) - filmatleven on November 19th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on November 19th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
down the hills and round the bendsnorton_gale on November 19th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
In fact, H1N1 vaccines around the world are being made by the same companies that make seasonal flu vaccines, using the exact same methods.

YES! It's just like the seasonal vaccine that's offered every year, people. Nothing mysterious about it.

I received it as I'm nursing infants under 6 mo. It's still not widely available here. Oh, and by the way, no side effects for me - not even a sore arm. Not a huge deal.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 19th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
One of my flist friends, who works in a high-risk industry, was told by her OB that she (the OB) would never vaccinate a woman in her first trimester. Which baffled me completely. Poor friend has since been horribly ill, I hope it's with something wholly unrelated.

Of course, one of the doctors who I rang to see if they could fit me in for a shot this week airily assured me that one week would be adequate to develop immunity, which suggests that a lot of doctors don't keep up with the literature ...

Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on November 19th, 2009 03:43 pm (UTC)
H1N1 vaccines
I realise my position against flu and swin flu vaccination has to do with the different social and cultural scene in Germany in regards to mass vaccinations. Many German doctors warn against mass vaccination, because long-term effects on the immune system are unknown. What is known is that one possible (and more and more probable) cause of auto-immune illnesses (like MS, Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis, Wegener's granulomatosis etc.) are effects of vaccinations.

You may find this article on historical flu outbreaks and the role mass vaccinations had in their spread interesting: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/NEJMra0904322

And here's the Arzneimitteltelegramm for doctors and health care workers with information about why flu mass vaccinations are not necessary and potentially harmful in Germany. Unfortunately it's only in German (I include it in this post only for the German-speaking of your flist, Brammers, in case they are interested.)

I don't want to get into a huge discussion about vaccination - I am no expert and could not argue on a medical level. My comment is only meant to convey that there are other opinions out there.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 19th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: H1N1 vaccines
But how does that tally with the fact that viral attacks such as influenza are major triggers for autoimmune diseases? I acknowledge that in some cases vaccination may be a trigger, which has been under intense investigation by many researchers without yet establishing clear links, but we know that severe illness IS a trigger for many if not all autoimmune diseases, plus, in this case, influenza itself kills people.

Was that first link to the correct paper? If it is, I would strongly disagree with your conclusion on what it shows: the Fort Dix incident was an extremely special case and, as the paper's conclusion says, the H1N1 release came from a research laboratory, not from the vaccination programme. That vaccination programme had its own issues, due to limited contamination according to the best sources available, but that is a separate issue.
Re: H1N1 vaccines - drgaellon on November 20th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - vaysh on November 20th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - blamebrampton on November 20th, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - drgaellon on November 20th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - blamebrampton on November 20th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - drgaellon on November 20th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - blamebrampton on November 21st, 2009 01:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - drgaellon on November 21st, 2009 01:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - blamebrampton on November 21st, 2009 01:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - drgaellon on November 21st, 2009 01:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - blamebrampton on November 21st, 2009 01:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: H1N1 vaccines - drgaellon on November 21st, 2009 01:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
winstonmomwinstonmom on November 19th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
The husband just took our 8 year old girl to get the vaccine. The actual school district organized the clinic and everything went fine, because her age she needs to get another doses.
I just thought you may be interested about the following documentary. It is about the story about the creation of the polio vaccine. Extremely interesting and at the same time a testimony about the importance of mass vaccination.


Have a good day!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 19th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
When I was a little girl my father took me to India several times and we spent two years travelling from South Africa to Egypt. The things I saw on those trips absolutely convinced me that, even if the most dire concerns about vaccination causing sundry issues are true (which the science and stats do not back up), the benefits still massively outweigh the risks.

Back in the developed world, I had a childhood friend die of measles, an adult friend of meningicoccal, and recently an American acquaintance of H1N1. The first two were easily preventable, and the last would have been had she been luckier with her timing.

I also passionately love antibiotics and sanitation. And I'll certainly make time to watch the doco, thank you for sharing it!
Cerisewivern on November 19th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
I work for the Cancer Council and they are giving them to us at work. I get mine today. So do not want to get H1N1.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 20th, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
Goodness no, it seems to be generally horrible. I hope your experience is as straightforward and pain-free as mine.
(no subject) - wivern on November 21st, 2009 01:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on November 21st, 2009 01:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
adores_dracoadores_draco on November 19th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
I strongly suggest that people get vaccinated. Especially if they're in risk groups.

I'm still recovering from swine flu and I do not recommend that experience to anyone. It wasn't quite as bad as I thought it might be but having high fever for days made me really weak. I've getting pretty much all the infections for the last two years - and we're most certainly not amused.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 19th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, it seems horribly nasty. Poor you getting sick again before you can properly get better! Sounds as though you require a holiday somewhere warm and healthy, I hear Tuvalu is lovely, and it may not be there much longer ;-)

Best wishes for getting well!
(no subject) - adores_draco on November 19th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on November 20th, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Meredythmeredyth_13 on November 19th, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
I need to go and get mine - I had my regular flu shot earlier this year. As someone with a compromised immune system, and lung problems, I'm apparently 'higher risk' generally anyway.

I actually got put onto a yearly flu shot regime years ago when they thought I had leukaemia - that was a fun couple of weeks. Having one helps focus my system into actually doing what it's meant to do instead of all the faffing around it likes to get on with. Of course, since then I actually have had a proper diagnosis of what's wrong with my immune system. Joy!

Glad to see they're putting out some meaningful literature. I try not to read the brochures and the 'slight risk of' lists, because I'm prone to psychosomatic reactions. Sometimes less information is a good thing for my brain.

Thanks for spreading the good word, honey. *smooch*

ps. Will miss you. Have a BLAST!

*is determined not to get eaten by envy*
Oalethiaxx on November 20th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
Good job on the vaccine! It's still pretty limited where I live, just available for pregnant woman and health care workers for the most part, though they're gradually opening access wider.

I can understand that people are confused, though. As you said, there's a lot of misinformation going around about vaccines (I really hope people don't still believe those Autism myths, BTW). But you can get whiplash just trying to follow valid reports about treatment and nutrition--something's good one year and bad the next. I've been hearing a lot about antibacterial soap lately ... super strains and all that.
Bryoneybryoneybrynn on November 20th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
Ben and I both had ours - not available for the hubby yet. neither of us had much reaction in terms of fever. Ben was a bit grumpy, which is typical for him after a vaccine. I had a big sore lump at the injection site that lasted about 10 days. Ouchy! But I was glad to get it. It's been a bit scary!
LadyDark1 ~ A  Harry and Draco Slash Addict.Period: girl sitting watching stars/blue shadingldydark1 on November 20th, 2009 05:39 am (UTC)
I don't believe in Coincidence
This morning I read this interesting and informative post.
Thank you BlameBranton for posting this.

On my lunch hour, I went to get my allergy shots.
They had a limited supply of the H1N1 vaccine.
My Md allergist offered it to me.
I decided to take the H1N1 vaccine.
The shot, not the nasal vaccine.

I do not smoke, my deceased mother did, and I have
a hx. of bronchitis. I also work daily, very closely,
with the public. I am taking temperatures, blood
pressures, pulses, and pricking their fingers.

I consider myself a health care worker.
I do not work in a hospital or nursing home.

My work organization will not offer the H1N1 to
their people. I did get a regular flu shot from
my work organization the first week in October.

When I got home, there were 6 clinics offering the
H1N1 for free in my area.
There were 2000 vaccines and once they were gone,
they were gone. People, adults,
children, handicapped were lined up around blocks
or the length of buildings waiting to receive the

There is a shortage of the regular flu vaccine
and the H1N1 vaccine in our area.

I don't believe in coincidence.
I am glad I was able to receive the vaccine.
drgaellon on November 20th, 2009 12:32 pm (UTC)
In fact, H1N1 vaccines around the world are being made by the same companies that make seasonal flu vaccines, using the exact same methods.

The flip side is, the diversion of vaccine manufacturing equipment to making H1N1 vaccine has led to a shortage of seasonal flu vaccine in the US this year.
uminohikariuminohikari on November 21st, 2009 03:47 am (UTC)
There is lack of H1N1 vaccine around here though :T My school system is supposed to supply vaccines to all students who ask, but they only have enough for the elementary schoolers...
shadowclubshadowclub on November 21st, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
I got the nasal vaccine because I live on a campus with quite a few hospitals and there were several students who contracted it...at first I thought the whole H1N1 was just hype, but I slowly began to realize that it was far more serious.

I agree that people should definitely look at what the side effects/ make sure it has been tested, but I think most vaccines are definitely worth it.