Thursday, September 24, 2009

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

This is what we should be worried about.

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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