H1N1 Flu vaccine fears spark rumors

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Health professionals say they the F.D.A. approved H1N1 Flu vaccine is manufactured much like the regular flu vaccine, which has a track record they are willing to stand by.

"Really, the vaccine, at this point, appears to be just as safe as the regular flu vaccine, that we receive every year," said Doctor B.J. Foch with the Office of Public Health.

But recently 7 News received an email saying that doctors at the Baptist Hospital in Beaumont were advising staff and patients not to get the H1N1 Flu vaccine because several people got Guillian-Barre disorder as a result, a claim that the hospital said is false. In a statement released by the Baptist Hospital in Beaumont one emergency room physician writes,

"It is not true. The vaccine has not been given yet in our area, and therefore no such incident exists. It is irresponsible from whoever created this email and caused worry to people."

An infectious disease practitioner also wrote,

"The information that ER doctors at Baptist are telling the ER staff and patients to not to take the H1N1 vaccine is simply not true. As proponents of both seasonal and the H1N1 vaccines, the ER physicians at Beaumont have made no such recommendations"

"The chance for a poor outcome is much greater if they don't get the vaccine, then if they do get the vaccine," said Doctor Foch with the Office of Public Health.

According to a recent KPLC-TV.com poll, many do not agree. Sixty-three percent of people say they will not get the vaccine, and only 24 percent say they will. Many believe that the rumors stem from an occurrence in the 1970's, where people did actually get Guillian-Barre disorder, but it was never linked to the vaccine.

"People may hear that there was a swine flu vaccine in 1976, and here it is again. But again, it is a different time," said Doctor Foch with the Office of Public Health.


Baptist Hospital of Beaumont Statements:

Here is the response from our Emergency Room Physician

This is an email that has been going around for awhile.  It is not true.  The vaccine has not been given yet in our area, and therefore no such incident exists.  It is irresponsible from whoever created this email and caused worry to people.  No doctor associated with BEMA has denounced the vaccine.  I received a call from 2 doctors offices today with people bringing the same email.

The H1N1 vaccine is just now coming to market.  It has not been given to anyone locally.  Guillian-Barre (GB) is an autoimmune disorder that is multifactorial, and the direct cause is unknown though links to a specific bacterial cause of gastroenteritis and certain respiratory virus do exist.  In 1976 there was mass vaccination for similar influenza strain.  During that time there were 25 patients world wide that died from the GB that had been vaccinated.  Though there was an increase incidence of GB during that time, no direct causative link between the vaccine and the disease was shown.  There are surveillance measures in place to evaluate all adverse effects from any vaccine and this standard practice will continue during the current epidemic.

The physicians at Beaumont Emergency Medicine Associates agree with the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and the Texas Department of Health.  Both seasonal influenza and the H1N1 strain of influenza have been associated with increased morbidity and mortality.  Most people seen and treated at our hospital with influenza have been discharged home from the ED with conservative therapy and without antiviral medication following the guidelines by CDC and TDH.  Influenza can have severe complications including death, and is seen every year during seasonal flu times.  The vaccine is effective in preventing the illness and is highly recommended for high risk populations including health care workers, elderly, people with multiple medical problems, and pregnant women.  Pandemic vaccines have undergone intense evaluation by the FDA and have a very good safety profile.  Ultimately the decision will be made by each individual person, but the recommendations are available.  Please get the facts and be careful of questionable and irresponsible information sent via email or the web.

Here is the response from our Infectious Disease Practitioner

The information that ER docs at Baptist are telling the ER staff and patients to NOT take the H1N1 vaccine is simply NOT true. As proponents of both seasonal and H1N1 vaccine, the ER physicians at Beaumont had NO such meeting with staff and HAVE made NO such recommendations. The ER physicians at both Baptist Beaumont and Baptist Orange are instrumental in our pandemic preparedness and response measures and keeping the internal and external community safe.

As for the Baptist nurse's son that contracted Guillian-Barre syndrome after taking the H1N1 vaccine.......this is an even bigger falsity when you consider that the H1N1 vaccine has not even been distributed yet. The H1N1 vaccine will not be available until mid-October but may be shipped sooner to health care providers across the nation. The H1N1 vaccine has been developed with the same processes and at the same facilities as the seasonal flu vaccine. Baptist Hospital Beaumont and Baptist Hospital Orange are both registered providers for the H1N1 vaccine.

Innuendo and rumor can lead to fear and chaos or worse, declination of a vaccine that may be beneficial. My prayer is that people who have concerns or questions about the H1N1 vaccine (or anything else in general) will seek and pass on appropriate resources of information so that people can make INFORMED DECISIONS.

I do wholeheartedly agree with the last statement in the original email:......."you should ask your doctor about it if you have any questions"

Lastly, great and appropriate resources (in addition to your physician) are www.texasflu.org and http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/public/vaccination_qa_pub.htm

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