Pandemic flu vaccine is here…

Swine flu vaccine, Pandemrix, from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been approved by the European Medicines Agency. Another, made by Baxter, is being evaluated.

The plan is to vaccinate 1,000 children between the ages of six months and 12 years over the next few  weeks to see which of the two vaccines performs the best. Professor Andrew Pollard, from the University of Oxford, told the Press Association that the trial will compare the two vaccines head-to-head to see which one works best in children and causes the fewest side-effects.

Really? And just how will that work then? The only way you can test a vaccine in this way is to expose the vaccinated kids to the virus – Edward Jenner figured that one out 213 years ago – but, as the swine flu virus is – as yet – a relatively minor problem, the chances of significant numbers of these vaccinated kids being exposed by normal means is minimal.

The only way to properly test the efficacy of the vaccine is to deliberately expose the kids to the virus and see what happens. That  just isn’t going to happen.

Waiting to see if the kids get sick, though, will prove absolutely nothing if they don’t get sick, and if they do, well there are mitigating factors – like the question of how long full immunity takes to build up.

You don’t simply become immediately immune just because you’ve had an injection – it can take from a few days to a few weeks for your own immune system to crank up it’s antibody production levels to the point at which you become immune – or mostly immune. If this vaccine is like the normal flu vaccine, there’s still a risk of developing a minor case of flu, especially in the early days.

So, like the rest of the handling of this pandemic here in the UK, all we’re being offered is more suck it and see. Terrific…

And by the way, I have to say that the pandemic flu vaccine is not:-

a) The spawn of Satan

b) A plot to cull the Earth’s population

c) Lethally dangerous and untried

d) Anything else so beloved of the uninformed lunatic fringe of pseudo-science. If I had the opportunity I would have no hesitation in having my vaccination right now. And, unlike most, I’ve done my research and know the risks – the REAL risks, that is!