Weighing the risks and benefits of H1N1 Vaccination - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Weighing the risks and benefits of H1N1 Vaccination

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The first doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine could be available to Iowans sooner than officials first thought. The Food and Drug Administration has approved vaccines made by four drug companiesm, and the first shipments could now come in just a few weeks.

The lead researcher at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics says there are side effects to this vaccine, but they're no worse than any other flu shot, and the positives of this new vaccine far outweigh the negatives.

According to Dr. Pat Winokur, H1N1 vaccine testing has been going well. She says test subjects who took the first vaccines several weeks ago developed immune responses quickly. "Really, about 8 to 10 days. So, the antibodies are being made quickly," said Winokur.

A new round of tests began Monday, introducing compounds called "adjuvents" into the vaccine, to boost the immune response. Winokur says between 80 and 100 percent of 18 to 64-year olds vaccinated developed an immunity with a single dose, and few side effects.

"A small number of people get a sore arm, a few people will have a low-grade temperature and feel a little achy, usually for a day or two. But, we've not seem more worrisome or adverse reactions than that."

Despite skepticism, Winokur assured us that the vaccine is safe to use. "There's nothing different about this H1N1 vaccine than the flu vaccines you got last year, or the year before. It's made exactly the same way."

Not getting the vaccine may prove more dangerous than in years past. Winokur says every year, 20 to 40 thousand people in the U.S. die as a result of influenza, and with the H1N1 strain now in the mix, she expects that number to rise.

"We know that this year, there are more people who are succeptible to the virus, and we expect the mortality rates to go up, simpy because more people are going to get this virus."

Dr. Winokur is anxiously awaiting results from the pediatric applications of the vaccine, as children between the ages of 6 months and 17 years may react differently than adults.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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