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Controversial Flu Vaccine Study Finally Published, but Questions Raised Linger

Posted Apr 07 2010 3:37pm

A set of controversial studies that suggested getting a previous seasonal flu shot doubled a person’s risk of catching pandemic H1N1 last spring has finally been published–though the mystery of whether the finding is real remains.

Provinces and territories scrambled to rethink their flu shot programs last fall when word of the then-unpublished findings spread like wildfire through Canadian research and public health communities. Most decided to delay their seasonal flu vaccine programs until distribution of pandemic vaccine was completed.

But outside of Canada, where the effect wasn’t seen, scientists scratched their heads and dismissed the inexplicable and troubling findings as “the Canadian problem.”

Publication of the research in a top flight journal–PLoS Medicine–may make some skeptics consider whether they should revise their thinking.

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