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Guinea Pigs of the Swine Flu Shot.


From time.com

(WASHINGTON) — More than 3,000 people a day have a heart attack. If you’re one of them the day after your swine flu shot, will you worry the vaccine was to blame and not the more likely culprit, all those burgers and fries?

The government is starting an unprecedented system to track possible side effects as mass flu vaccinations begin next month. The idea is to detect any rare but real problems quickly, and explain the inevitable coincidences that are sure to cause some false alarms.

Health authorities hope to vaccinate well over half the population in just a few months against swine flu, which doctors call the 2009 H1N1 strain. That would be a feat. No more than 100 million Americans usually get vaccinated against regular winter flu, and never in such a short period.

How many will race for the vaccine depends partly on confidence in its safety. The last mass inoculations against a different swine flu, in 1976, were marred by reports of a rare paralyzing condition, Guillain-Barre syndrome.

But because this H1N1 flu targets the young more than the old, this may be the year that unprecedented numbers of children and pregnant women are vaccinated. Very rare side effects by definition could come to light only after large-scale inoculations begin, making this the year scientists may finally learn if flu vaccine truly is linked to Guillain-Barre, an often reversible but sometimes fatal paralysis.

Mayo’s Poland cites a study in Chicago that found the rate of preschoolers being hospitalized for the new H1N1 flu last spring was 2 1/2 times higher than that possible Guillain-Barre risk.

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