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This year's seasonal flu vaccines

Posted Jul 31 2010 6:27am
Flu vaccine is being recommended for the entire US population over 6 months of age, starting this year.

The (non-live) vaccines will contain 3 antigens, one of which is the antigen used for swine flu vaccines since late 2009.

DHHS Secretary Sibelius issued a Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act waiver of liability for injuries from swine flu vaccines , which appears to have expired in late June . Here is the law describing duration of such waivers.  Thus one should be able to sue manufacturers for injuries sustained as a result of this season's flu vaccine.

However, a similar vaccine used in Australia caused one in 110 children to have a seizure recently, so its use was prohibited in children under five while a panel is investigating the possible cause.  Although US public health agencies are well aware of this problem, US authorities chose to recommend the same flu vaccine for all children aged over 6 months.  Furthermore, CDC plans to roll out the shots earlier than usual this flu season.  That makes little sense.

Seasonal flu epidemics almost never start before December.  It takes up to 2 weeks to get maximal immunity from one vaccine dose.  Immunity wanes rapidly.  Therefore, there is no reason to get vaccinated before late November.

Furthermore, there has been almost no swine flu  in the southern hemisphere this 2010 flu season (their winter is our summer).  Only 5 cases have been recorded so far this season in Tasmania , which has a population of 500,000, of whom less than 1/3 have been vaccinated.  I wonder if a much higher proportion of us were exposed and became immune last year than the 20% reported.  Exposure gives you much stronger and longer-lasting immunity than vaccination.

So it is likely the swine flu component of the vaccine will be unnecessary.  Australians suspect that is what is contributing to adverse reactions.  Canadians might suggest the combination is unsound.  No one knows for sure.
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