Side effects not always due to swine flu shot

October 31, 2009 By MARIA CHENG , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- Hundreds of people on any given day will die, develop the paralyzing Guillain-Barre syndrome or have spontaneous abortions, and that doesn't necessarily mean that their swine flu vaccination shot was to blame, a new study says.

As millions of people worldwide begin getting the new swine flu shot, public health officials are bracing for rumors about dangerous side effects linked to the .

To provide context, experts combed hospital databases and population samples in Britain, Canada, Finland, the United States and elsewhere to find daily baseline rates of commonly reported events like Guillain-Barre syndrome, sudden deaths, seizures and abortions. The research was published online Saturday in the British medical .

They found that in Britain, for every 10 million people who might get the swine flu shot, about 22 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome and 6 unexplained deaths will likely occur within 6 weeks of vaccination - and probably won't be caused by the vaccine.

In the U.S., experts expect that for every 1 million pregnant women who get the swine , 397 will have a spontaneous abortion within a day.

Only if the rates of these events exceed these baseline numbers should experts suspect the vaccine might be responsible.

"People die every day for lots of reasons, but we tend not to think about that when a mass immunization campaign is happening," said Steven Black of Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio, one of the paper's authors. "We're not saying we don't need to look at vaccine safety, but let's do it judiciously."

Black, like several of the study's authors, received grants from companies that make .

Mass immunization campaigns for diseases like measles and yellow fever have frequently been undermined by rumors that the vaccines cause dangerous side effects.

Still, rumors may also mask legitimate vaccine concerns. In Nigeria, fears that the oral polio vaccine causes HIV were unfounded but concern about the vaccine was not entirely unwarranted: it does cause polio in rare instances.

"The greatest danger ahead is that there will be coincidental events between (swine flu) vaccination and adverse health events and people will draw conclusions that are not based on science," said Leonard Marcus of Harvard University's School of Public Health, an expert not linked to the study.

Marcus said health officials must be vigilant in case any unforeseen side effects do pop up.

"When side effects happen to an individual, it's devastating. And it's human nature to want to link it to a recent vaccination," Marcus said. "But it's also possible to be compassionate without leaping to conclusions."

Of the thousands of people so far who have received the vaccine worldwide, no more serious than a sore arm, fever, or muscle pain have been reported.


On the Net:

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: WHO: Swine flu vaccine on track

Related Stories

WHO: Swine flu vaccine on track

August 6, 2009

(AP) -- Swine flu vaccine manufacturers are on track to start delivering the first batches of it in September, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Ouch! Early flu shot season comes with 3 jabs

August 6, 2009

(AP) -- Get ready to roll up your sleeve three times for flu shots this fall. That's right, three times. This year's flu season is shaping up to be a very different one. Most people will need one shot for the regular seasonal ...

Half of health workers reject swine flu shot

August 25, 2009

(AP) -- About half of Hong Kong's health workers would refuse the swine flu vaccine, new research says, a trend that experts say would likely apply worldwide. In a study that polled 2,255 Hong Kong health workers this year, ...

Flu season: How many shots?

August 30, 2009

(AP) -- Doctors don't know yet if it will take one dose or two of vaccine to protect against the new swine flu. Add that to vaccine for the regular winter flu, and it could be a multishot season for a lot of people - or ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Oct 31, 2009
All of the above is true but it does not go far enough:
There may still be problems w/ the vaccine if; it contains thimerosal (only in the multi-dose packages. The book is still not closed on injected alkylmercury in spite of the propaganda.) or it contains squalene.

This seasons H1N1, like all seasons since the late 70's, is a so far bust, i.e. low infection rates and low death rates except in children harboring a bacterial infection like staph and/or those who have an underlying immune issue.

There is more going on w/ the Gov't and industry hyping of this years H1N1 flu than meets the eye because the severity doesn't warrant this. I suggest that we follow the money to try to discover why.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.