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Canada Has Suspended Seasonal Flu Shots For Anyone Under 65


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Has anyone read this or have any further information? (Edited to add...most Canadian Provences have suspended the seasonal shot for now...I didn't have room to list them out so I just put Canada in the headline)

What really jumped out at me was that a major Provence was suspending flu shots for now and others have followed. It's Canada, not a small/third-world country.

Do we have any Canadians who are hearing more about this?

I'm still deciding what, if any, shots to get and I was surprised to run across this information. I just wish the paper was published so we could make a more informed decisions! It's under 'peer review' so can't be discussed.

Link and Article:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/techno...article1303330/

A “perplexing” Canadian study linking H1N1 to seasonal flu shots is throwing national influenza plans into disarray and testing public faith in the government agencies responsible for protecting the nation's health.

Distributed for peer review last week, the study confounded infectious-disease experts in suggesting that people vaccinated against seasonal flu are twice as likely to catch swine flu.

The paper is under peer review, and lead researchers Danuta Skowronski of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Gaston De Serres of Laval University must stay mum until it's published.

Met with intense early skepticism both in Canada and abroad, the paper has since convinced several provincial health agencies to announce hasty suspensions of seasonal flu vaccinations, long-held fixtures of public-health planning.

“It has confused things very badly,” said Dr. Ethan Rubinstein, head of adult infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. “And it has certainly cost us credibility from the public because of conflicting recommendations. Until last week, there had always been much encouragement to get the seasonal flu vaccine.”

On Sunday Quebec joined Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia in suspending seasonal flu shots for anyone under 65 years of age. Quebec's Health Ministry announced it would postpone vaccinations until January, clearing the autumn months for health professionals to focus on vaccinating against H1N1, which is expected to the more severe influenza strain this season.

“By the time the H1N1 wave is over, there will be ample time to vaccinate for seasonal flu,” Dr. Rubinstein said.

B.C. is expected to announce a similar suspension during a press conference Monday morning.

Other provinces, including Manitoba, are still pondering a response to the research.

New Brunswick is a lone hold-out, announcing last week it would forge ahead with seasonal flu shots for all residents in October, as originally planned.

So far, the study's impact is confined to Canada. Researchers in the U.S., Britain and Australia have not reported the same phenomenon. Marie-Paule Kieny, the World Health Organization's director of vaccine research, said last week the Canadian findings were an international anomaly and could constitute a “study bias.”

An international panel is currently scrutinizing the research data. “The review process has been expedited, so we're hoping for a response within days,” said Roy Wadia, spokesman for the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Dr. Rubinstein, who has read the study, said it appears sound.

“There are a large number of authors, all of them excellent and credible researchers,” he said. “And the sample size is very large – 12 or 13 million people taken from the central reporting systems in three provinces. The research is solid.”

The vaccine suspensions do not apply for people over 65. Seniors are considered more susceptible to severe seasonal flu symptoms. At the same time, they carry antibodies from a 1957 pandemic that seem to neutralize the current version of H1N1.

Even if the statistical link is proven, the medical link between seasonal flu shots and H1N1 remains mysterious. One hypothesis suggests seasonal flu vaccine preoccupies the cells that would otherwise produce antibodies against H1N1.

But, according to Dr. Rubinstein, the research shows that people who received the seasonal shot during the 2007-08 flu season remained vulnerable to swine flu well into 2009 – an interval that should provide most immune systems ample restoration time.

“We don't understand the mechanism,” Dr. Rubinstein said. “At the present time it is quite perplexing.”

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Hi cat lady, I hope your hives are gone!

Anyway I have a different take on your post. Most people who will get the flu shot are more likely to get the swine flu because of other factors. What I mean is I always get the flu shot because I was a teacher (high risk with the little ones). Also I have children of my own and our exposure from school, church, school bus, friends, cousins, etc. is much greater then people who spend more time with adults.

I had the flu shot this year and I want to get the swine flu shot as well. My husband has never had the flu but his exposure to let's say high risk groups is much less. He has also never gotten a flu shot. Also I am more the physical caretaker of our children. I am the one who handles all of the "dirty stuff" that comes in the door!

I think that people who think they need the regular flu shot under 65 are the mostly the same people who are going to be the most exposed to the H1N1.

It also may be that people who got the regular flu shot had a false sense of security and were less careful about hand washing etc. thinking they wouldn't get sick. "I had my flu shot so I'm not going to get sick".

Anyway just my thoughts. Every year I have not gotten a flu shot, I have gotten really sick so I am happy to get both shots. Hope this make sense ...I usually don't.... And a I really hope your reaction is gone!!!! kayjay

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Wow interesting, strange and disturbing. Kayjay may be right, but until the research and analysis is actually published it is hard to speculate.

I don't know what % of non-at-risk people get the seasonal flu shot and if that issue was controlled for in the study results.

Sounds like it is a mystery to at least one person in the medical community--who was interviewed.

My whole family just got seasonal flu vaccination, so hope we did the best thing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

hi guys, guess I am a bit late in posting this, but many provinces are suggesting to get the H1N1 vaccine first, then wait a month for your seasonal flu shot. The H1N1 virus is in circulation now, so it makes sense to have that vaccination first, then the Seasonal flu vaccine about a month afterwards.

I understand that the thought is that if you were to have the Seasonal Flu vaccine first or in close conjunction with the H1N1 vaccine, it may make you more susceptable to infection from the H1N1 virus as the Seasonal Flu vaccine preoccupies the cells that would otherwise produce antibodies against H1N1 virus. Confusing and pretty much un-proven, but some provinces are taking precautions and advising to wait for the Seasonal Flu shot.

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In my area, which is Maryland, I had to get the seasonal flu shot now or never because they were running out with no replenishment to come. Several places were out already. The demand exceeded their expectations. I normally hold off getting this shot until the beginning of December, but I had no choice.

As for the H1N1, I won't be taking that injection. I don't want it, not that there is any to be had anyway.

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Laura -

What you said makes perfect sense from an immunology standpoint. Unfortunately, our military doesn't seem to get this. My boyfriend's brother is in Navy. They got the regular shot and a week later got the H1N1 shot. Guess what? All of them got H1N1! It was mild, but enough to make him quite uncomfortable.

As for me getting the shot, I'm thinking "No" unless the flu turns more deadly. I've had very bad reactions to injections in the past (Paralysis with DTP and High Fever with Tetanus) and I've never had a flu shot. I also avoid egg and egg products in general (not sure why, just really don't like them).

I was actually diagnosed with "Swine Flu" in July. It felt like a cold for about 3-4 days. Mild fever, cough, sore throat.... Boyfriend and his coworkers had something similar, though one of his coworkers did have a 103 fever for 4 days and was in bed. I think it's hitting everyone differently, even in the same family. Some people have almost nothing, others are very very sick. (This last statement is from my Mom who works at an elementary school). If I'm not immune, I'm still taking precautions, washing my hands, using hand sanitizer, not touching my face AT ALL. Hopefully, this will keep me safe.

Sara

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The "perplexing" study has important weaknesses. The most important is the "unhealthy user effect." People are more likely to get flu shots if they are at particularly high risk for complications from the flu. This includes the elderly and people with damaged immune systems. Of course, these are the same people who are likely to get sick enough from H1N1 flu to get their H1N1 infection documented.

I always get a flu shot if there's enough vaccine to go around. It's nice that it might help prevent me from getting the flu, but I get the flu shot partly to avoid the risk that I might spread the flu to other people. I also take a vitamin D supplement in the winter. I haven't had any winter upper respiratory infections since I started doing that.

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