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Parents weigh the risk of vaccinating children for H1N1
Physicians say they are hearing young parents express doubts about inoculating their children against the swine flu H1N1. This new generation of vaccine skeptics has been made by the persistent belief in a link between vaccines and autism. And it is further fueled by a combustible mix of distrust of drug manufacturers, media outlets and the federal government.

And although many pediatricians are in support of vaccinating children, several in Southern California contacted by The Times acknowledged they have doubts about recommending a vaccine that is still in testing for all of their young patients.

"A significant proportion of our population doesn’t want to get it," says Sherman Oaks pediatrician Mikayel Abramyan. "I don't even know whether I will advocate for it right now."

Epidemiologists have found that children, young adults and pregnant women who catch the new flu run a greater risk than the elderly of developing complications; as a result, all three groups top the list of those recommended to get H1N1 vaccine this year. And even before the new strain emerged, many epidemiologists had embraced the view that vaccinating schoolchildren -- the most prolific spreaders of germs -- might be the best way to reduce the seasonal flu's hold on the entire population.

The collective doubts of this generation of parents, say experts in infectious disease control, could prevent the efforts of government officials and the medical establishment to stem the spread of a new contagion, and to ready for other infectious diseases that may emerge down the road.

"I haven't seen enough evidence to show that swine flu is as deadly and as scary as it's made out to be," says Stella Nystrom, a Mother who last week was fighting a respiratory infection. Nystrom thinks that media outlets have whipped up the threat in a bid to gain viewers. And "anything brought out by big business, by corporations, that makes me wary for sure. . . . I'm not sure they have our interests in mind."

She also voiced the widely held belief that immunity acquired the natural way -- through a child's having caught an illness -- is stronger and longer-lasting than that acquired by vaccination. That claim is much debated among physicians and infectious-disease specialists, with evidence falling on both sides of the debate.

She has had her child immunized against a wide range of childhood diseases, but has decided to wait, at least, for her child to get older before getting the vaccine cocktail that immunizes against measles, mumps and rubella. Though the MMR vaccine has not been formulated with the preservative thimerosol since 2001, it remains a common source of concern among parents, because many families of children with autism, as well as vaccine refusers, have charged that the MMR vaccine is the cause of the developmental disorder.

Some formulations of the H1N1 influenza vaccine are expected to contain a small amount of thimerosol to prevent contamination during manufacture and shipment. The American Academy of Pediatrics, in an effort to blunt these and other concerns, recently posted to its website an exhaustive accounting of studies that have failed to link thimerosol with harm. But the preservative's low-level presence in some flu vaccines, including some H1N1 formulations that will be offered for children this year, may make some pediatricians and parents squeamish. Some parents will seek out formulations that are free of the preservative, but others may just stay away.


Web Source: latimes.com/features/health/la-he-no-fear14-2009sep14,0,184014.story
Source: LA Times, By Melissa Healy, September 14, 2009
 
Dr. Iverson's Comment
 
Well given the history of vaccines I think it is great that parents are being more pro-active and asking the right questions and demanding the government to be accountable. There is just not enough time to test a vaccine and realize its possible side effects if it has never been used before. Below is an excerpt from Dr. Mercola’s website that is very interesting:
The 1976 swine flu vaccine campaign caused more harm than good, and there are indications that the current campaign may end up being a devastating repeat or worse.
At that time, one person died from the actual swine flu, while 25 people died from adverse reactions to the vaccine, and several hundred people developed crippling Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
According to The Daily Mail, the British Health Protection Agency sent letters to 600 neurologists on July 29th 2009,  warning them to be on the lookout for cases of Guillain- Barré Syndrome once the swine flu vaccine campaign begins.
Why the warning was not sent out to general practitioners, who will be administering the shot, seems an odd choice if public safety is indeed the main concern.
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/09/01/Swine-Flu-Shot-Linked-to-Killer-Nerve-Disease.aspx
Children can be quite susceptible to the effects of vaccines because their delicate system is still developing. Too many chemicals or antigens exposed to a child at a young age with a developing or less-than-perfect immune system could be quite damaging. 
 
In my opinion, this H1N1 flu strain is not as dangerous as other strains in years prior.   Follow the good health guidelines as mentioned in the companion article this month “Swine flu could explode in fall.” Keep the family as healthy as possible with these tips and reserve the vaccine for children that have chronic immune deficiencies or are malnourished and could be in danger with flu’s of any kind.
 
Be well!
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