Medical Experts Respond to Swine Flu: H1N1 Flu Vaccine – Who Should Get It, Who Shouldn’t Get It and Is It Safe?

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

In a recent post, Swine Flu:  H1N1 Flu Vaccine – Who Should Get It, Who Shouldn’t Get It and Is It Safe, a Healthin30 reader, Doriorio posted a comment and questioned the safety of the H1N1 Flu Vaccine.

Doriorio writes:

“Hi. Thanks for a great post. My pediatrician expressed concern to me about potential adjuvents in the H1N1 vaccines, saying that there are six manufacturers and potentially a wide variety in the vaccines among them. I know adjuvents are used more widely in Europe, but it’s not clear if the ones that may be used in the H1N1 vaccines have been tested for side effects. I think given the groups being prioritized for this vaccine, for instance infants, we should not be taking any chances in administering anything untested via vaccine. It conjures up the smallpox vaccine fiasco in the 1970s where the government had to set aside a vaccine injury compensation program for injured parties, some of whom were permanently affected. What do you know about adjuvents being added and the safety claims being made by the CDC when testing time has obviously been nonexistent.”

The following medical experts replied:

Dr. Alanna Levine, Pediatrician replied:

According to CDC website, there will not be adjuvants in the H1N1 vaccine this year.

American Medical Association’s Expert – Litjen (L.J) Tan, MS, PhD Director, Medicine and Public Health, replied:

“All 2009 H1N1 vaccines currently approved by the FDA for use in the United States are adjuvant-free. These vaccines are produced in exactly the same manner as the regular seasonal influenza vaccine. The only difference, of course, is that the 2009 H1N1 vaccine contains the new influenza strain.”

Kevin Soden, MD replied:

“There have been a number of clinical trials in several countries involving H1N1 vaccines. Those made for the European market contained adjuvants while those for use in the US market did not. WHO and the CDC have closely monitored side effects in those receiving both types of vaccines in these trials. They have seen no serious side effects with the H1N1 vaccine to date and will continue to monitor this vaccine very closely as there is great concern that we do not repeat the problems with the previous swine flu vaccine.”

Robert Mendelson MD, FAAP, Pediatrician replied:

“As a pediatrician I have heard some of the same unfounded fears from patients. I have checked with pediatric ID specialists and the ID committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The consensus is:  For this season’s flu vaccines, both seasonal and pandemic H1N1, there are NO NEW ADJUVANTS!! The composition of the vaccine is exactly the same as vaccines produced over the last several years. Look up the package label for the vaccines… while each year’s vaccines are looked at by FDA prior to licensing, the way that the vaccines are made (including adjuvants) and studied has not changed: on the package insert, you can see the “date of original licensure” which goes back many years in some cases.”

I hope Doriorio that you found the medical expert replies helpful.  If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Thanks for reading.

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    I am a stage 4 bile duct cancer patient and receiving oral treatment. Naturally, I fall under the high risk group and is encouraged to take the H1N1 vaccination jab. Has there been any data on the vaccination test on cancer patients, who are on active treatment and what could be the possible side effects?

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    Hello Ai Bee Tan,

    Thank you for your question. Bruce B. Dan, MD, our medical expert answers it now.

    “Each week the CDC analyzes information about influenza disease activity in
    the United States. They have found that more than half of the adults
    hospitalized (seriously ill) with H1N1 flu have had underlying medical
    conditions, including pregnancy, asthma, diabetes, chronic lung diseases, chronic
    heart disease, and immunosuppressive disorders.

    So it is especially important that individuals with cancer and other
    medical conditions, which may compromise the immune system, receive protection
    from the flu (both the H1N1 strain and the seasonal flu strains as well).
    There is no evidence that these individuals (or healthy people) have had any
    major side effects from vaccination.

    Remember that all of us are exposed to dozens of viruses and other
    potentially harmful micro-organisms on a daily basis. One of the main mechanisms
    our immune system has for warding off serious infections is to recognize
    the outer biochemical coating of these germs and to form antibodies against
    them. The influenza vaccine is merely a purified portion of that
    biochemical coating, and getting the vaccine allows you to produce protective
    antibodies without having to get the flu first.”

    Thank you again for your question and for following Healthin30. If you have any further questions, please let us know.


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