There is also the usual one sided information concerning possible vaccine autism connections, information which fails to mention credible health authorities like Dr. Bernadine Healy, Dr. Julie Gerberding and Dr. Jon Poling who have said that more research needs to be done on vaccine autism issues. Nor does the information release mention the critique offered by those like Dr. Healy who points out that the "science" to date on vaccine autism issues, the epidemiological studies, are not specific enough to determine the impact of vaccines on vulnerable population subsets, on individual children with conditions that might render them vulnerable. Dr. Healy also points out that flu vaccines have contained thimerosal and thimerosal crosses the placenta. (Dr. Poling, a neurologist, was involved with the issue with his daughter on whose behalf it was successfully claimed that her autism resulted from vaccination. The US government settled on the basis that her "autism like symptoms" were caused by the vaccine aggravation of her pre-existing mitochondrial disorder).
The NB government communication release does not mention that no observational study has been done comparing autism rates of vaccinated populations with autism rates of unvaccinated populations. With the use of vaccines containing thimerosal and adjuvants, most likely squalene, with pregnant women and young children targeted for early receipt of the H1N1 vaccines, the NB government is essentially conducting such a study. Hopefully they will remember these events in assessing NB autism rates 2 to 5 years from now as the young children vaccinated with the thimerosal and adjuvant (squalene) and the new born children of vaccinated pregnant women mature.
I don't know if vaccines cause or trigger autism. I am no longer assured by overstated health authority pronouncements that vaccines do not cause autism, that the science is closed on these issues, when people of such credibility as Dr. Healy, Dr. Gerberding and Dr. Poling say more research is needed.
I do hope that our NB health authorities turn out to be right whether it is from a lucky guess or not. I hope that they save every child and adult from H1N1 flu death with no resulting cases of autism. But I am far from convinced that such will be the case. I absolutely hope that they remember this H1N1 flu vaccine and assess future autism rates with an eye to its ingredients - thimerosal, squalene and whatever other ingredients it contains. And it is probably hoping for too much for them to actually record and compare the autism rates of children who are vaccinated with the H1N1 vaccine and those whose parents refuse the vaccination for them. Time will tell.
Oct. 8, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The following update on the H1N1 flu virus was issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for New Brunswick on Thursday, Oct. 8:
- We have moved forward with our seasonal vaccination program, according to plans. It started last week and will run for the month of October. The public awareness piece accompanying the campaign speaks to those most at risk of developing complications from seasonal influenza. They are: children six-to-23 months old, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, and the elderly. We encourage these groups to get the publicly funded vaccine. A list of clinics by region may be found at www.gnb.ca/flu.
- There has been a frequently referred to, but as-yet unpublished, Canadian study that suggests an association between seasonal flu vaccine and acquiring a mild case of the H1N1 virus. This study is inconsistent with other international studies, and has failed to show a relationship that one causes the other. Both the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization have responded to the study, saying that preliminary data show that there is no link between having a severe bout of pandemic flu and having had a seasonal flu shot last year. New Brunswick's position on this study has never changed.
- We know that seasonal flu is fatal to 100-150 New Brunswickers each year, and that children are hospitalized by influenza more than any other age group.
- In making decisions for the province, we balanced this known significant risk and a vast body of published research against the results of one unpublished study, and determined that the best way to protect all New Brunswickers from both diseases was to move ahead with our plans to run a seasonal flu immunization campaign in October, and an H1N1 immunization campaign through November.
- We are running both campaigns because it is the best decision for New Brunswick. We made operational decisions early on that will allow us to have the capacity to offer both vaccines.
- There has never been a one-size-fits-all approach to seasonal vaccines in Canada, and this year is no different. Provinces and territories have not previously had to administer two separate flu immunization programs in a single season, and some of the decisions taken on seasonal and H1N1 vaccine timing reflect concerns over logistics, capacity and likely vaccine uptake.
- The seasonal flu vaccine is safe, and those in the high-risk groups, in particular, should take the steps to receive it as soon as possible.
- There have also been reports and public speculation about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine. The contents of the H1N1 vaccine will protect against contracting H1N1. The included additives and preservatives are there to help the vaccine work, and are not cause for alarm.
- As a multi-dose vaccine, the H1N1 influenza vaccine will contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal to prevent contamination of the vaccine by serious infectious agents from the growth of bacteria. Thimerosal also has a stabilizing effect on the vaccine, ensuring its effectiveness.
- The seasonal flu vaccine and most hepatitis B vaccines are also multi-dose vaccines, and thimerosal is added during the manufacturing process to maintain sterility of the vaccine.
- There is no safety reason to avoid using vaccines containing thimerosal. The best available scientific evidence to date shows no link between vaccines containing thimerosal and any adverse health condition, including neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.
- The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has reviewed the safety of thimerosal and concluded that, "There is no legitimate safety reason to avoid the use of thimerosal-containing products for children or older individuals, including pregnant women." International bodies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, share this opinion.
- Most of the H1N1 vaccine available in New Brunswick will also contain an adjuvant. An adjuvant is a substance that is added to a vaccine in order to boost an individual's immune response. It also means that less of the virus, or antigen, is needed to make a dose of the vaccine. Unadjuvanted vaccine has no booster element, and more antigen is needed to create this kind of vaccine.
- By developing an adjuvanted vaccine, Canada has used less of the virus material (antigen), allowing us to immunize more people in a timely manner.
- Adjuvants are not new. Many commonly used vaccines in Canada contain an adjuvant. Adjuvants have been used for several decades to boost immune response to vaccines. However, adjuvants have not previously been used with influenza vaccines in Canada.
- The WHO has indicated that it has no special concerns about the safety of adjuvanted H1N1 vaccines in general.
- New Brunswickers should continue to protect themselves and those around them by washing their hands thoroughly and often, coughing or sneezing into sleeves, staying home if sick, and keeping common surfaces clean.
- Persons at high risk of complications from influenza-like illness should seek medical attention promptly. Those at risk include pregnant women, people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, or those with compromised immune systems.
- Persons with influenza-like symptoms should stay home and minimize contact with family members as much as possible. If symptoms worsen, they should visit their physician or nurse-practitioner, a walk-in clinic or the nearest hospital emergency department.
- It is recommended that persons with influenza-like symptoms limit contact with other people, including other household members until they are free of symptoms and are feeling well.
- Those experiencing influenza-like illness should consider ending self-isolation when they are able to participate fully in all of their normal daily activities.
- It is important for New Brunswickers to understand that if they do not have influenza-like symptoms it is safe to go to work and school, to participate in activities and to socialize.
- More information on the H1N1 flu virus may be found online, or by calling the 24-hour H1N1 line, 1-800-580-0038.
MEDIA CONTACT: Danielle Phillips, media relations, H1N1 Pandemic, Department of Health, 506-444-3821, firstname.lastname@example.org.