The Swine Flu has been the most discussed health condition of 2009. The swine flu virus – also called the H1N1 swine flu virus – is currently causing disease in a lot of countries; especially in North and South America and Europe where it has caused up to 5000 deaths. Recently, a vaccine was developed to prevent people from getting infected with the disease. People have been encouraged to receive the vaccination against the swine flu virus but many people are afraid to do so. What are the reasons for the reluctance of some people to get vaccinated? Are they right to refuse the vaccination? Are their fears justified? The following are some of the reasons why people fear the H1N1 swine flu vaccine:
1. The swine flu vaccine (and all flu vaccines) can trigger allergic reactions in people who have sensitivities to the components used in its preparation. It can also trigger reactions in people who have no known allergies. These reactions are usually mild such as a headache, low fever, sore or swelling but in rare cases, serious and life-threatening reactions occur.
2. A rare side effect of the swine flu vaccine which can occur is the Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). GBS is a disorder which causes paralysis of the legs, hands and face; and can be fatal when it affects the lungs.
3. During the 1976 swine flu outbreak in the United States of America, a mass vaccination program was carried out. Deaths occurred in people who were vaccinated causing the program to be cancelled. The deaths were attributable to the side effects of the swine flu vaccine notably the Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
4. Reports that the 2009 swine flu vaccine is made using the same processes and facilities that have been used to make all other flu vaccines including the 1976 swine flu vaccine.
5. Reports in the media and on the internet that health workers have refused to receive the swine flu vaccinations.
6. Reports that Thimerosal or Thiomersal (a mercury compound) which is used to prevent bacterial contamination of multi-shot swine flu vaccine vials causes autism, auto-immune diseases and neuro-developmental disorders.
7. Reports that Squalene which is added to the swine flu vaccine to improve its efficacy causes neurological disorders and auto-immune diseases.
8. Comments by medical experts that the swine flu outbreak of 2009 has been over-reported and sensationalized. They say this probably happened because of the events that occurred during the 1976 swine flu outbreak. They also say that the side effects of the swine flu vaccine can be more dangerous than the swine flu infection itself.
9. Rumors and (reports on the internet) that preparation and testing of the 2009 swine flu vaccine was not properly conducted or was hurried.
10. Reports that receiving the swine flu vaccination can cause you to be infected with the swine flu virus.
Some people also feel that they do not have to receive the swine flu vaccination if they have been previously vaccinated against it or if they have received seasonal flu vaccinations. Health authorities like the World Health Organization have demonstrated though, that some of the above reports are untrue such as those of thimerosal and squalene causing disorders in swine flu vaccine recipients. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has also deemed the 2009 swine flu vaccine safe for use.