BAR HARBOR — While major public health organizations have mounted a widespread publicity campaign for vaccination against the H1N1 “swine” flu, one area health professional is questioning whether the vaccine is effective, or safe.
Dr. Meryl Nass, an on-call doctor at Mount Desert Island Hospital, is a nationally recognized expert on vaccine safety issues, with a focus on anthrax and smallpox vaccines. The safety of H1N1 vaccine has not been proven, she said.
H1N1 vaccine was approved within a very short period, without the amount of testing typically required for vaccines, she said. The speed of the process leaves many questions in her mind as to whether the vaccine is safe and whether it is even effective at preventing H1N1.
“It is not a question of data, because there is virtually none,” she said. “A number of papers have just come out online that talk about very early studies, but they’re not adequate to determine safety or effectiveness.”
The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledges that the vaccine was created without the lengthy testing process usually required, but says that it is safe because it was created under the exact same conditions that seasonal flu vaccine is created every year.
“We expect the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine to have a similar safety profile as seasonal flu vaccines, which have a very good safety track record,” CDC officials stated in an Oct. 5 press release.
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