What is the Swine Flu Vaccine and is it safe?
The Swine flu epidemic, or more accurately the swine flu pandemic, as it had reached global proportions, was keeping the pharmaceutical companies very busy.
-Not only did they have to produce the normal seasonal flu supply, but an H1N1 vaccine as well to fight the spread of the swine flu, and to help reduce the potential for the more severe cases.
Each year, the flu virus mutates, creating a whole new strain of the virus. The seasonal flu vaccine therefore has a new viral component whenever this mutation occurs, and this is the heart of each new and distinct vaccine.
-The strains are similar in many ways. It's these similarities that the scientists use to formulate new flu vaccines for the general public.
In each vaccine a portion of the newly identified virus strain is used to stimulate the immune system to create antibodies. The body then uses these antibodies to fight against the new flu virus.
-With the H1N1 virus, the strain was obviously much different from any previous strains of the seasonal flu. The vaccine formulation process took somewhat longer because of this, but common features of the influenza virus helped, and scientists then substituted the new swine flu virus component to obtain the new H1N1 vaccine.
Each component of the swine flu vaccine was then tested for safety and its effectiveness using the same procedures as for the seasonal flu vaccine.
-With Seasonal flu , young children and the elderly are at the highest risk of infection, with the swine flu the groups most at risk had changed somewhat:
Once this first wave of people got the swine flu vaccine, healthy people in the 25 - 64 age group would then be vaccinated.
-Finally, healthy people 65 and older, (formerly the most at risk, now seem to have had the least chance of getting the swine flu ), were then administered the vaccine.
This age group would definitely receive seasonal flu vaccine, and then they would receive the swine flu vaccine)
The vaccination was available as a shot and also in a nasal spray.
-The nasal spray is created from a weakened form of the live virus, and is for persons age 2 through 49, who are healthy and are not pregnant . This type of vaccination process is also referred to as live attenuated (weakened) intranasal vaccine. (LAIV)
It was approved for use in 2003, with tens of millions of doses already having been given in the United States. It is similar to how Flu Mist is given for the seasonal flu.
-If someone is given Flu Mist for the seasonal flu, they had to wait before being given the nasal spray H1N1 vaccine. Both are live viruses but they act in different ways and there is still testing that needs to be done on how they would react together.
Conversely, the swine flu shot was created with inactivated forms of the virus. With the shot, you could receive the seasonal flu shot and the swine flu shot at the same time.
What about egg allergies?
-Any person who is known to have an allergic reaction to eggs would be concerned about getting the swine flu vaccine, as it is developed using chicken-egg-based cultures.
Those who have or suspect egg allergies must proceed with extreme caution and also with the direct consultation of their doctor , and then only in gradual, monitored doses.
-There is a vaccine being developed by Baxter Vaccines, which is made without the use of eggs and without the preservative thimerosal -stay tuned.
Could the vaccine be given to children?
- Yes, the shot could be given to children as young as six months old and adults as well.
For children ages 2 through 9, the vaccine was given in two doses ; the second dose is given 28 days or more after the initial dose. Without this second dose -little or no protection is received.
-It takes about 2 weeks for immunity to be fully realized after the second dose.
Many people especially parents, much prefer the nasal form of swine flu vaccine (or seasonal vaccine for that matter) because it does not contain thimerosal, or any other preservative suspected by many to cause problems.
-The nasal form of the vaccine, however, does contain more egg protein than the swine flu shot, so those with egg allergy concerns please beware.
Also, most single-dose syringes of the H1N1 vaccine do not contain thimerosal, ask your doctor to be absolutely sure if this is a concern.
How else can I prevent the flu?
Is the H1N1 flu vaccine really safe?
Many were concerned that the swine flu vaccine seemed to be developing all too quickly, given the strict nature of drug regulations in the United States. While doctors said it was safe, the general public was somewhat divided in their views.
-There was a fear that as of 1976, a rash of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) could occur as a result of vaccination. There were less than a dozen cases of GBS confirmed, with only a few suspected to be actually associated with the swine flu vaccine and only temporary symptoms had been reported.
In the 76 'swine flu outbreak, over 500 cases of Guillain-Barre resulted in some 25 deaths, blamed by many on the swine flu vaccine.
-No one really knows what causes Guillain-Barre, it is believed to be caused by an infection (even the common cold, or the flu itself) and there was never any concrete proof that the swine flu vaccine caused it.
There have been many more cases of GBS in those who did not receive the vaccine.
-In the only study that showed any association at all with the vaccine, it was hinted that 1 out of every 1 million people who received the vaccine may be at risk of GBS.
There has been a lot of controversy as to the possible dangers of swine flu vaccine, seasonal flu vaccine, or any vaccine for that matter, and whether or not they are safe due to additives and preservatives.
-We all have to make up our own minds as to the risk involved in getting any type of vaccine as opposed to the risks there may be in not getting them.
The good news is this: If you are in good health, even if you do get the swine flu or the seasonal flu virus, you will be sick for a week or two, but in the vast majority of cases you will find thereafter.
-The problems generally arise among those who have serious existing health conditions, and then get the flu as well.
At health-stories.org, we are of the opinion that if you are in a high-risk group you should definitely consider receiving the swine flu vaccine in the future, and of course the seasonal flu vaccine each year.
-See this Related story from one of our visitors, and her personal opinion on getting the flu vaccine.
Talking to your doctor about any possible risk factors specific to your own personal health situation will help you make an informed decision.
-While it is certainly true that there have been some adverse affects in some people who have received various vaccines, there are more cases where people who have not received a given vaccine have had complications in their existing health conditions.
MMR Vaccine Controversy?
The following videos and links provide additional information:
Wikipedia - MMR vaccine controversy
-The National Vaccine Information Center says if you vaccinate:
Ask these 8 questions
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Symptoms of the Swine and Seasonal Flu
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