H1N1 Is No Joke – Get Vaccinated – NOW!

As of October 28th, 435 people in Santa Clara County, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, have been hospitalized with serious complications related to the H1N1 influenza virus and 13 have died since May. In California, there have been 4,047 hospitalizations and 249 deaths.

The The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the H1N1 vaccine will provide the best protection from the H1N1 flu. Persons in lower-risk groups should let these high risk populations get the vaccine before them:

  • Pregnant women
  • People who live with or provide care for infants under six months
  • Children and young adults between the ages of 6 months and 24 years
  • Adults between the ages of 25 and 64 years who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for flu-related complications
  • Healthcare and emergency medical services workers.

Some commentators are trying to scare the population away from taking the H1N1 vaccine by quoting the Great Swine Flu Scare of ’76. The story begins with a swine-flu outbreak killing a U.S. soldier at Fort Dix in New Jersey. President Gerald Ford responded by convening a summit of scientists and ordering vaccinations for all 220 million Americans. While 45 million Americans got vaccinated, the credibility of the program was destroyed when A) the outbreak was limited to just a couple of hundred soldiers at Fort Dix, and B) 500 people who took the vaccine developed a paralyzing neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, with two dozen people dying from it.

The deaths prompted an investigation by the U.S. Immunization Safety Review committee, after which the committee concluded that the evidence was inadequate to either accept or reject a link between the vaccine and GBS. However, the committee added that “the evidence was at most weak that the vaccine could act in humans in ways that could lead to these neurological problems.”

Experts still do not know whether or not something went wrong with the vaccine that year, but they note that since 1976, flu vaccines have not led to a spike in cases of GBS. One of the strongest arguments cited in favor of getting the flu vaccine is that the flu itself can cause GBS. Raymond Roos, a neurologist/virologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center who has studied GBS, said he is “comfortable” with recommending the H1N1 vaccine. “On balance, I’m a proponent for taking an H1N1 vaccine,” he said. “The flu and H1N1 have the potential to cause nervous system abnormalities.” He added that vaccine makers have made significant improvements in the safety of vaccines since 1976.

Heath officials said H1N1 flu has caused at least 19 more children’s deaths. At least 114 children have died from swine flu complications since the pandemic began in April, up from 95 reported a week ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the statistics Friday. So while you are free to make your own decision about getting yourself vaccinated, please think very seriously about the the consequences of not getting your children vaccinated.

More information is available from the Centers For Disease Control.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical nor health professional and these are only my opinions. Please consult with a medical or health professional and do not listen to the fringe about this very important subject.

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