Thursday, August 27, 2009
Investigations: Health Workers Won't Get H1N1 Shot Amid Side-Effect Concerns
Only half of health-care workers in two separate studies in the UK and Hong Kong plan to get the vaccine against the H1N1 virus that is now being fast-tracked to be ready by mid-October. So says this story in Britain's leading medical weekly Pulse - a survey of 115 UK doctors - and this item in the British Medical Journal on a Hong Kong poll of 2,255 health employees. And a poll by Nursing Times cited in this BMJ story found just 37 percent of nurses planned to get vaccinated. The Hong Kong respondents refusing the vaccine cited fear of side-effects and concerns about efficacy.
The Pulse piece also cited a study in the journal Emerging Health Threats that found the public is skeptical about novel vaccines introduced amid epidemics, citing concerns about lack of safety testing.
The studies follow these stories in the Times of London and Daily Mail on concerns about the fast-tracked vaccine at the UK's Health Protection Agency. The agency sent a letter to neurologists noting that an earlier vaccine rushed into use amid a similar swine flu outbreak in the U.S. in 1976 may have led to an eight-fold increase in cases of a brain disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which causes paralysis and can be fatal. That flu outbreak caused one death, while side-effects from the vaccine killed 25. The vaccine was withdrawn after 10 weeks of use, and the U.S. government had to compensate claimants.