Need more evidence about vaccines? Seasonal-flu shots halted in Canada (those vaccinated twice as likely to catch the flu!)
A “perplexing” Canadian study linking the H1N1 virus to seasonal-flu shots is throwing the nation’s influenza plans into disarray and straining public faith in the government agencies responsible for protecting Canada’s health.
Distributed for peer review last week, the study confounded infectious-disease experts in suggesting that people vaccinated against seasonal flu are twice as likely to catch swine flu.
With the paper under review, its lead researchers must stay mum until it’s published. So far, the study’s impact is confined to Canada. Researchers in the United States, Britain and Australia have not reported the same phenomenon.
Met with intense early skepticism both in Canada and abroad, the paper has since persuaded several provincial health agencies to announce hasty suspensions of seasonal-flu vaccinations, long-held fixtures of publichealth planning.
“It has confused things very badly,” said Dr. Ethan Rubinstein, head of adult infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. “Until last week, there had always been much encouragement to get the seasonal-flu vaccine.”
British Columbia announced yesterday that is suspending seasonal-flu shots for anyone younger than 65 years old, joining Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia in halting the immunizations.
“By the time the H1N1 wave is over, there will be ample time to vaccinate for seasonal flu,” Rubinstein said.