Many skeptical of swine flu vaccine
Published Monday, September 28, 2009 6:01PM EDT
Quebec health authorities will begin doling out the swine flu vaccine in November.
However despite repeated warnings of a pandemic, only half of Montrealers say they will be willing to get vaccinated, according to a survey taken on behalf of Montreal Public Health.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Timothy Brewer says the swine flu is no worse than your everyday seasonal flu.
The problem lately is it seems to be the only flu people are getting.
"If you look at Australia and New Zealand which have already been through their flu season, about 90 per cent of the flu seen was pandemic flu," said Brewer.
Some of the people who oppose getting vaccinated are worried about the potential health risk of a vaccine, but doctors argue that most of that skepticism is based on a misunderstanding of scientific research.
"There are some people who believe that the preservative used in multi-dose vaccines are associated with autism. Absolutely no data to support that at all," said Brewer.
"Second could it be related to a neurological problem called Guillain-Barr� syndrome."
1976 Flu scare
In 1976, tens of millions of people in the United States received a massively-promoted swine flu vaccine.
About 500 fell victim to Guillain-Barr� syndrome and suffered from paralysis, and although in almost cases the paralysis was temporary, 25 people died.
The vaccination program was called to a halt after ten weeks, and the swine flu scare of 1976 fizzled.
Other opponents believe the shot is a cash grab by pharmaceutical companies, a notion that Marketing professor George Dassios scoffs at.
"When we're talking about a vaccine the revenue's a lot less," said Dassios. "It's not as highly lucrative as some might suggest."
Dassios says most pharmaceutical companies make their money by treating chronic diseases, not by creating a one-shot preventative.