Thursday, September 24, 2009

Seasonal flu shot increases A(H1N1) risk: Canadian study

  • The story continues to unfold, which underlines why we are still unclear about how to cope with the H1N1 flu.
  • Many imponderables seem to cloud the best practices and recommendations that we see fit to implement, even with experiences and hindsight wisdom.
  • More debate and confusion as to seasonal flu vaccination--to do or not to do.
  • More needs to be researched as to this possibility or to disprove this finding.
  • Perhaps, less is more, but can we or dare we do any less?

 Seasonal flu shot increases A(H1N1) risk: Canadian study

OTTAWA: Preliminary results from some studies have found that seasonal flu shots may increase the risk of catching Influenza A(H1N1), Canadian scientists said Wednesday.

About 2,000 people from four Canadian provinces were involved in the separate studies, which showed that people who had received the seasonal flu vaccine in the past were more likely to get sick with the A(H1N1) virus, China’s Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday, citing the scientists as saying.

Researchers know that, theoretically, when people are exposed to bacteria or a virus, it can stimulate the immune system to create antibodies that facilitate the entry of another strain of the virus.
Dengue fever is one example, scientists say.

But experts stressed that these are very preliminary results and need to be validated.

“This is some evidence that has been floated; it hasn’t been validated yet, it’s very preliminary,” cautioned Dr Don Low, microbiologist in chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

But this is nevertheless very important data to help guide policy decision, as the time comes for seasonal flu shots, he said.

This latest finding raises questions about the order in which to get flu shots.

Across Canada, public health authorities are fiercely debating the idea of shortening, delaying or scrapping their seasonal flu vaccination campaign in favour of mass inoculation against A(H1N1).

The main reason is because A(H1N1) may be the dominant strain of influenza circulating when the fall flu season hits, meaning it could be a waste of time and resources to mount a seasonal flu vaccine campaign. -- Bernama

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