Tuesday, October 27, 2009

h1n1 myths

Some valuable resources for dispelling h1n1 myths:

the webcasts of Dr. Bernstein from Dartmouth are very good:

rumors about guillain barre and the vaccine are rampant. This Vancouver Sun article tackles that question head on:

a quote from the novartis prescribing highlights:
"The 1976 swine influenza vaccine was associated with an increased frequency of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Evidence for a causal relation of GBS with subsequent vaccines prepared from other influenza viruses is unclear. If influenza vaccine does pose a risk, it is probably slightly more than 1 additional case/1 million persons vaccinated."

Some people when reading product monographs don't really understand what they're looking at. Listed in the monograph, especially in the CPS, there are study results showing every possible side effect that was seen in vaccine trials, often there are tables showing the number of people in the control group vs. vaccine group who had a certain effect. These effects aren't always statistically significant and often the incidence of the effect is higher in the non-vaccine or non-treatment group. These adverse events often happen in such small numbers in the studies that there isn't enough power to establish a cause and effect relationship. I.e. if there were fewer pulmonary embolisms in the group taking the vaccine that doesn't mean that the vaccine protects you against having a PE.

In addition, every medication has risks associated with it and we have to critically think about the level of risk. If there is a 1 in 100 000 risk of having a certain complication, but in our group the risk of dying from the disease is 1 in 30 000 (not actual statistics from any known disease or treatment) - we have to decide whether we accept the 1 in 100 000 risk in exchange for protection against the 1 in 30 000 risk.


XE said...

You go girl. I'm having an awful time trying to reassure people that the vaccine is safe, there's so much hype! I'll be getting a shot ASAP.

XE said...

P.S. I replied to your comment on my blog, but anything you have would be very much appreciated! Merci beaucoup!

Milk and Two Sugars said...

Great summary!