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Swine Flu Vaccine Worries Some

Sep 30, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Some patient advocates are concerned that the new swine flu vaccine may not be safe for everyone.   The worry that the vaccine has not been subjected to enough testing, and fear that there could be a repeat of the public health disaster that was spawned by the use of a vaccine for a strain of swine flu that appeared in the 1970s.

According to a report on WFAA-TV, the 1976 swine flu vaccine was used to inoculate 43 million  people to stop the spread of a virus that was first detected  at a New Jersey military base.  The feared swine flu outbreak never happened, and worse, hundreds of those receiving the vaccine developed a paralyzing neurologic condition called Guillane-Barre Syndrome, and dozens died.

One pharmacist told WFAA-TV that the scenario could be repeated with the new swine flu vaccine.  He and other critics of the swine flu vaccine argue that it has only been tested for a few weeks, and only healthy people have been part of the study group.  They fear it could be dangerous for people who have chronic illnesses.

Others are concerned that the swine flu vaccine is made with Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that some believe is associated with autism and other developmental problems.

According to WFAA-TV, proponents of the new swine flu vaccine argue that today's outbreak is far different from what occurred in 1976. They point out that the virus is already circulating in the general population, something that did not happen in the 1970s.  It has contributed to thousands of deaths across the globe, including some in the U.S.

They also insist that vaccine manufacturing has become safer over the past 30 years. According to WFAA-TV,  the new swine flu vaccine was manufactured in the same way the seasonal flu vaccine is made.  That vaccine is given to millions every year, with few adverse affects, the report said.

As for the Thimerosal issue, WFAA-TV said patients with such concerns can ask for vaccine stored in single-dose vials.  Only multi-dose vials contain vaccine made with the preservative.


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