There’s an abundance of hype in the media these days concerning the safety and necessity of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.
There are those who oppose any type of immunization, those who believe in conspiracy theories and those who just don’t trust science-based medicine. And, of course, there are many individuals who have a justifiable worries about anything that is new and possibly not adequately tested.
The fact is that this H1N1 vaccine uses the same technology, processes and facilities that are used to make the yearly seasonal flu vaccine, which, over the past 30 years, has proven to be reliable and safe.
The H1N1 vaccine has been tested extensively, and so far, no significant side effects have been noted. The only difference between this vaccine and the yearly flu vaccine is that the H1N1 vaccine targets a different strain of the influenza virus.
We must remember that any time a new drug or therapy is tested on thousands of individuals, it eventually comes to market to treat millions of people. Overall, we have a very good track record of providing new drugs to those who benefit greatly from them.
Smallpox, which was a scourge of the world, has been virtually eliminated by a vaccine. Polio, measles, mumps and rubella have been controlled where vaccinations are available.
Physicians constantly grapple with the concept of risk versus benefit when treating patients. As with life in general, there are no absolute guarantees in medicine, but I believe the benefit of preventing complications from H1N1 flu outweighs the risk of the vaccine itself.