Thursday, September 24, 2009

Flu Shots and Swine Flu

To take or not to take (the flu shots)? That's the question.

Based on a series of unpublished studies from British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario, the findings seem to suggest that people who got a seasonal flu shot last year are about twice as likely to catch swine flu as people who didn't. As a result of that, Ontario is changing its approach to seasonal flu vaccine administration this year.

In October, the seasonal flu vaccine will be offered to people 65 and older, and residents in long-term care homes. Starting in November, the swine flu vaccine will be rolled out. The seasonal flu vaccine will once again be offered to everyone over six months old in December and January.

The reason behind inoculating the elderly against the seasonal flu is because they are the hardest hit. The new H1N1 virus has disproportionately affected younger people. Doctors believe that young people have been particularly hard-hit because the H1N1 virus resembles a strain of flu that circulated before 1957, to which older people have been exposed.

Unpublished studies show the flu shot last year could make us twice as likely to catch the swine flu this year. What if the swine flu shot this year will make us twice as likely to catch another type of flu next year? If we take both swine flu shot and seasonal flu shot this year, are we four times as likely to catch a new flu next year? I guess no one can tell us... even doctors and scientists... :(

The Canadian Press
Toronto Star
Globe and Mail

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