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Dr. Michael Gardam in a lab at UHN in Toronto, August 29, 2007. (Ryan Carter/Ryan Carter)
Dr. Michael Gardam in a lab at UHN in Toronto, August 29, 2007. (Ryan Carter/Ryan Carter)

Discussion

H1N1 myth busters Add to ...

A: Lots of people want to know if they have had this already. The problem is there is no good routine lab test to figure that out. We can look for antibodies but this is only done in a small number of research labs and the test is not that good...and this is not unique to Canada; all labs are having the same issue.

Q: Dr. Gardam, I have a question that isn't related to vaccinations. I understand that complications from H1N1 is highest in certain vulnerable groups (e.g. immunocompromised) but there was recently a story about the young and healthy woman from B.C. who died from H1N1. Are you able to comment on this?

A: Yes a fair percentage of people who have died from H1N1 around the world have had no identifiable risk factors.

Q: Is it true the H1N1 flu vaccine is still being tested on the public? Is it true that tests do not mean the future side effect are known? Would it be better for a person over 65 to just have the regular flu shot than take a gamble on future problems from the H1N1 flu vaccine?? Lots of people do not trust this vaccine!

A: This vaccine is being treated like any other vaccine. One cannot do studies of millions of people before licensing so there is what we call post licensing surveillance where people report in very rare side effects.

Q: I am breastfeeding a three month old and considering getting the vaccine so that I don't get H1N1 and pass it to my baby and toddler (or be too sick to properly take care of them). However, I'm concerned that in the few days after I get the vaccine, my breastmilk will contain too much of the vaccine for my baby. I'm also concerned about the adjuvant. I know they have no clinical results for adjuvants in pregnant women but do they have clinical results to show it is safe in breastfeeding women? Should I dump my breastmilk for a few days after the vaccine or avoid getting the vaccine altogether since I will be breastfeeding?

A: No significant amounts of the vaccine will get into breast milk. And again, the adjuvant is vitamin E and squalene - your child is already producing squalene naturally. It is definitely a good idea for you to do as you say - get vaccinated to protect your baby.

Q: What is the age cut off for needing 2 shots of H1N1 instead of just one in children?

A: Kids six months to nine years old should get two half dose shots. This dosing schedule may be modified as additional trial information becomes available.

Q: "There is almost no reason why somebody shouldn't get vaccinated, it all comes down to whether you want to prevent yourself from getting the flu." Don't mind getting the flu - what I'd like to avoid is two weeks in a heart/lung machine and/or death. I think that's the issue for many. Getting sick occasionally isn't a big deal. Dying or killing someone else IS.

A: Yes you are right, nobody wants to get really sick from this. It is important for people to be aware that the risk of serious illness if you are otherwise healthy is small, but not zero.

Q: Why does the Globe continue to call this the Swine Flu instead of H1N1... continuing to use this term. only further damages our pork industry.

A: The term swine flu is common parlance. It was originally called swine flu by the World Health Organization. We make sure we refer to it as H1N1 as well. It is important that are stories be readable and accessible to the public, not overloaded with jargon.

Q: If a 65+ person has been vaccinated as early as this month with the seasonal flu vaccine. Do they need to be re-vaccinated again in the spring as their immunity tends to wears out after a few months?

A: You will likely be OK if you got your shot recently, you shouldn't need to be revaccinated this spring. Keep tuned to the public health advice this spring in case something changes

Q: What's the preservative that they're using in the vaccine?

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