The Flu Vaccination...

Well the winter is approaching, and as per usual thousands of people in the UK are booking an appointment to receive their flu jab – 2010/11 is slightly different than usual in that the swine flu vaccine has been added to the standard vaccine.

My mother had her flu jab last year and suffered a host of problems. She didn’t feel well afterwards and finished up with a severe chest infection. This year she is going to decline the invitation.

On a non-medical personal note - as a CFS sufferer, whether I contract a virus via infection or via a vaccination, the end result is likely to be the same. In CFS the immune system is compromised and so cannot fight a virus well, resulting in a worsening of symptoms. So -

INFECTION + CFS = DISASTER!

From a professional point of view, Dr Charles Shepard, author of ‘Living with M.E’ is quoted as saying –

"Anecdotal reports suggest that [an adverse reaction or relapse following use of the influenza vaccine] may be more likely to occur in people who have ongoing infective-type symptoms (sore throats, enlarged glands, problems with temperature control, etc.). In this situation, I would personally advise against having a flu vaccine unless there are very good reasons for doing so.

I also would advise against flu vaccinations if a patient is in the very early stages of CFS, particularly when it obviously follows an infective episode. In addition, I would avoid administering the vaccine if the patient has previously experienced an adverse reaction to flu shots. Patients who have not shown adverse reactions to influenza vaccines in previous years will probably handle the latest vaccine without any real problems, even though the preparation varies annually."

On the other hand, Stanley N. Schwartz, MD, American Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has said -

"There is no good evidence-based medicine knowledge to support or refute the often-repeated notion that people with CFS should not have vaccinations.

We know that for certain people in high-risk groups, influenza can be serious or deadly, and I advise my patients that the decision to receive influenza vaccine should be made based on whether they meet the current Public Health Service criteria for vaccination.

If a person with CFS has any of those indications for the vaccine, I recommend it without hesitation. If a person does not have one of the standard indications for the vaccine, I tell them that the decision to receive it has to be a personal decision and that there is no research to confirm or reject the theory that patients with CFS have more problems with the vaccine."

Another view - The conclusion of a report by - Jefferson T, et al. Vaccines for prevent influenza in the elderly (review). The Cochrane Library 2010 (issue 2) – reads –

“The available evidence in respect of the flu vaccine is of poor quality and provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy or effectiveness for people aged 65 years or older.”

Yet more - this reported by the Health Science Institute -

“ Swine Flu rears its ugly head again ”...

“ After the UK government wasted £200 million by ordering an excess of the Swine Flu vaccines and antivirals, and had to write-off more than £73 million worth of antivirals, it appears we have not heard the last of this failed pandemic scare.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) are now advising governments to keep issuing the Swine Flu vaccine to protect against a possible resurgence of the H1N1 strain, and the UK Department for Health has decided to implement the advice immediately.

So brace yourself, the H1N1 vaccine will be included in this year's regular winter flu jab.

Of course, it seems that no one at the Department of Health cares about concerns that Pandemrix — the H1N1 vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline — has been investigated by the European Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after being linked to 27 reports of suspected narcolepsy across Europe.”

The fact is that some people have had the vaccine and sailed through the winter with no problems - though of course it’s possible that they’d have had no problems anyway -, some people have had the vaccine and had a bout of flu regardless, and some people have had the vaccine and suffered all sorts of side-effects, some of which research indicates are serious.

Confused?

I certainly am. But I’m certainly not happy about the addition of the swine flu vaccine, which I understand was created in a big hurry and not subjected to the usual array of safety checks.

On balance, I’ve decided against. As for you, only YOU can decide.