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I'll Pass on Flu Shot


I've never had a seasonal flu shot and never will until a doctor can convince me doing so would reduce my chances of dying or becoming hospitalized from influenza.

I don't fall into a high-risk category where underlying conditions such as respiratory problems would warrant me getting a shot.

However, people like me now have to decide whether we should get a flu shot for H1N1, a new strain of influenza that has caused slightly higher rates of serious illness and death compared with the normal seasonal flu.

Seriously ill

We're told people aged 20 to 50 -- I'm 45 next month -- are at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from H1N1 compared with the normal seasonal flu. But the vast majority of people aged 20 to 50 who have contracted H1N1 have neither died nor become seriously ill.

And many don't even know they have it.

Also, I notice people aged 20 to 50 are not listed by public health officials as those needing the vaccine the most.

Instead, the shots will be dispensed to the highest-need people first, including people with weakened immune systems and other medical conditions, aboriginals and health care staff.

If I fell into a high-risk category and knew I had a greater chance than normal of falling seriously ill or dying from H1N1, I would get vaccinated.

But I don't. And I'm not convinced otherwise healthy people are at much greater risk from H1N1 than the usual seasonal flu.

Dr. Joel Kettner, chief provincial public health officer, has a difficult job. He has to ensure he's doing everything possible to protect people from becoming seriously ill or dying from H1N1 without inciting panic. Naturally, he's going to err on the side of caution and recommend everyone get an H1N1 vaccine, even people like me who fall into the low-risk category.

But I figure if Kettner really thought it was imperative that people like me get an H1N1 flu vaccine, there would be urgency in his tone.

There wasn't yesterday during a press conference on how the new vaccine would be rolled out.

"I think it would be very reasonable for a lot of people to get vaccinated," said Kettner.

"Reasonable," but not "critical" or "imperative."

The other reason I'm not convinced H1N1 is that serious is because we're almost two months into the school season and we still haven't seen waves of people hospitalized from the virus. Not even close, actually.

Kettner said that could change as we get deeper into the flu season and because they don't know how the new strain will behave in the winter months. Which is more fear of the unknown than evidence-based science. Kettner calls it caution. OK.

But why not just get the H1N1 vaccine anyway, regardless of the expected benefits? Well, I'm not keen on having a vaccine pumped into my arm unless I think there's a really good reason for it. I'm also concerned with the speed with which this vaccine was developed, licensed and brought to market.

Change my mind

It's been approved by the Government of Canada based on "preliminary clinical trial data."

"Recommendations for use may be modified as more clinical trial data becomes available," a Health Canada bulletin says.

Oh.

Well, if it's all the same to you, I think I'll pass on the H1N1 vaccine. On balance, I don't think it's required for someone like me.

But just like Joel Kettner, I reserve the right to change my mind as new information becomes available, like if people start dropping like flies from this thing.

Maybe then Kettner will convince me to get the shot, not the flu.

For more, visit Brodbeck's blog Raise a Little Hell at winnipegsun.com. Reach Tom by e-mail at tom.brodbeck@sunmedia.ca.

Canadian Health Officials Struggle To Counter What They Consider H1N1 Myths

Canada Decides To Approve
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Canadians Will Be Immunized Faster
Than Other Parts of the World

Impending Mandatory Vaccinations Will Affect The Health, Jobs of Canadians

Public Health Officials in Canada Engaged
in Cover-Up Operation To Conceal Flu Origin

Canadian Province May Suspend Flu
Shots After Vaccine's Safety Questioned


Canada's Largest Province Distributing
H1N1 Flu Propaganda Kits


Canada Plans To Vaccinate The Entire
Population Against H1N1 Swine Flu


Canadian Medical Journal, Population Health Expert Call For Greater Pandemic Powers

Canadians Will Be Inoculated With H1N1 Vaccine Before Trials Are Completed


Canada is Rushing Approval
For Untested H1N1 Vaccines


Forced Vaccination and
Quarantine Laws in Canada


Targeted Native Populations in Canada
Dying of Tamiflu and Antiviral Intoxications

Health Expert in Canada Calling For
Compensation For Flu-Vaccine Injuries

* A full list of h1n1 vaccine ingredients, alerts and warnings.


Reference Source: www.winnipegsun.com
October 28, 2009

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