Colds and flu

07 October 2009

Minor side effects from H1N1 shot

Vaccine is the best tool against swine flu despite reports of a few minor side effects from the initial campaign in China, the World Health Organisation said.

Vaccine is the best tool against swine flu despite reports of a few minor side effects from the initial campaign in China, the World Health Organisation said Tuesday.

Four out of 39,000 people vaccinated against H1N1 in China have had side effects such as muscle cramps and headache, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

"Adverse events are fully to be expected, especially these mild types," Hartl said, adding that this was particularly true in cases where very large numbers of people are being vaccinated.

Encouraging people to be vaccinated
The vaccination campaign will soon move to Australia, the United States and parts of Europe, he said, encouraging people - especially health care workers - to be vaccinated.

"The vaccine is the single most important tool that we have against influenza," Hartl said. "For certain groups such as health care workers, it's doubly important to get vaccinated because health care workers have the ability to protect both themselves and to protect others by getting vaccinated."

US govt will track vaccination
The US government will be tracking possible side effects when mass flu vaccinations begin this month, in hopes of quickly detecting any rare problems that are actually caused by the vaccine and not pure coincidence.

US health authorities hope to give swine flu vaccinations to more than half the 300 million-plus population in just a few months.

The last mass inoculations in the United States against a different swine flu, in 1976, were marred by suggestions of a link in some cases to a rare paralyzing condition, Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Scientists never could prove that the vaccine really was linked to the syndrome, an often reversible but sometimes fatal paralysis. - (Sapa-AP/Alexander G. Higgins, October 2009)

Read more:
Swine flu timeline
South Africa: swine flu map


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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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