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The latest tidbits on H1N1

I’m no scientist, but I know that a lot of parents are just as concerned and confused about a number of H1N1 issues as I am. Here, I’ve compiled some news for you all in one spot. But please remember — this is just a compilation of news — not medical advice.

New information from WHO was released today. Its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization has reviewed the current epidemiological situation of the pandemic worldwide.

On vaccine dosage for children under 10:

According to this Canadian Press article published today,  WHO is now advising that only one dose of the vaccine is required even for very young children (previous to this, mutiple doses were being recommended). For 10 years and older, one single dose of the vaccine is still recommended.

However, when I consulted the WHO website, its release reads “Data on immunogenicity in children older than 6 months and younger than 10 years are limited and more studies are needed. Where national authorities have made children a priority for early vaccination, SAGE [the expert advisory for WHO] recommended that priority be given to the administration of one dose of vaccine to as many children as possible.”

I’ll be interested to see what Canadian authorities decide. As of right now, the website for the Public Health Agency of Canada still has two 1/2 doses as its recommendation for children aged 6 months to 9 years. (Its Twitter account did post a notice for a media advisory update to take place this afternoon at 2 pm. We’ll see.)

On vaccine safety for pregnant women (you know, as opposed to pregnant men):

This same WHO release notes the following elevated risks for pregnant women:

Overall, from 7% to 10% of all hospitalized patients are pregnant women in their second or third trimester of pregnancy. Pregnant women are ten times more likely to need care in an intensive care unit when compared with the general population.

As for the safety of the vaccine during pregnancy:

Concerning vaccines for pregnant women, SAGE noted that studies in experimental animals using live attenuated vaccines and non-adjuvanted or adjuvanted inactivated vaccines found no evidence of direct or indirect harmful effects on fertility, pregnancy, development of the embryo or fetus, birthing, or post-natal development.

Note that these studies involved both the non-adjuvanted and the adjuvanted vaccines.

Other news:

Ontario suspends rollout of H1N1 vaccine (Globe & Mail): announced today, only high-risk groups will receive vaccine starting next week. In Ottawa, only high-risk groups were supposed to be receiving it anyhow … but I guess it was being liberally distributed. Not anymore. 

Today’s updates from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Today’s updates from Canada Communicable Disease Report — “Flu watch”

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  1. Part of what concerns me is the lack of consistent information on a national level, let alone on an international level. Two 1/2 doses, one 1/2 dose, one full dose, who really knows? Let’s hope our experts have it right.

    Also, I am quite annoyed at the rollout of the vaccine in this province. It angers me that after a week of supposed ‘high priority’ clinics being open, many non priority people received the vaccine. It takes a suddenly limited quantity of vaccines for authorities to finally follow the plan they had prepared in the first place? Ridiculous.

    IMO, allowing non-priority people to receive the vaccine up until now only fueled the panic.

    Anyway, rant over. Thanks for the info Julie… I find it helpful to have as much info as possible.

  2. Hi Shawn –

    Re dosage: The dose for young children was originally two 1/2 doses. Now, there is a possible change to only one 1/2 dose. Not a full dose — apologies if my post was unclear on that. While the newspaper article suggests that it is because only one 1/2 dose is required, it seems to me from reading the WHO material that it is about ensuring there is enough vaccine for all children to at least get the first dose.

    Re non-priorities: I agree — It seems socially irresponsible to me to have allowed non-priorities to get the vaccine, especially when we’re now facing a possible shortage. What about all those in long-term care facilities who could not do the line-ups (like my grandmother) who’ve been waiting for a vaccine … these people are priorities and the vaccine should have been more carefully distributed if a shortage was a possibility.

    We only have one person in our family that is in the high priority category. But it seemed counter-intuitive to take my young child and stand in a crowd for three hours — aren’t we supposed to avoid crowds?

    Although some elements seem well planned out, like the Twitter accounts announcing latest wait times, other basics just seem to have been missed altogether.

    The wrist band system is a good, basic way to deal with large lines and avoid people having to wait around for hours. And yet, it’s only been instituted across all of Ottawa recently.

    What about a basic appointment system? Every shows up for their appointment time (i.e. you’ll be handled between 1pm and 2pm).

    And printing out forms and filling them in by hand?Complete all the forms online! Sure, not everyone is an internet user, but a large portion of the population could be dealt with that way.

    My huge thanks to those working the clinics. These people must be putting in very long hours, under very difficult circumstances. Those who organized the clinics, however, could have done a much better job at planning for the crowds as well as considering how to deal with non-priority people showing up at the doors.

  3. To clarifiy my comment Jules, I don’t attribute the misinformation re: dosage to you or your blog. I attribute it to a variety of governmental or traditional media sources that at one point or another have led me down conflicting paths.

    And I second your comment on those working in the clinics. Like any call centre environment, for example, these clinic workers likely receive the brunt of people’s frustrations and rudeness just because they are on the front line and there is no one else to vent to.

  4. Hi Shawn – Yes, I figure if I’m going to raise a huge stink, I will at least make the guy/gal earning the big bucks listen to it! (Not the poor call center person, just trying to pay a few bills.)

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