Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) said recently that people should not directly link death after treatment with the vaccine for A(H1N1) influenza to the vaccine itself and that further studies are needed.
At the same time, the minister conceded that vaccination poses some risk and the ministry should explain the risks to the public and take proper precautions.
Risks posed by treatment with the flu vaccine are predictable and there is bound to be controversy after the health authorities begin administering flu vaccinations on a large scale this fall and winter, the minister said.
Because the DOH will issue 10 million doses of the vaccine the probabilities of side effects caused by the vaccine are significant.
The health minister said cases of people developing discomfort following flu shots are seen every year, including a few who die after inoculation. He added that deaths from flu can occur even in inoculated persons, and such deaths do not necessarily indicate an ineffective vaccine.
Minister Yaung, who wrote his thesis on population control in Taiwan, warned that miscarriages and deaths will occur after vaccination but that the vaccine should not be blamed.
Head of the health department’s Centers for Disease Control Steve Kuo said on Friday that the vaccine will not be tested on pregnant women. Pregnant women are a priority target for the vaccine.
In Britain, women are less trusting of health authorities. According to the London Guardian, 48 per cent of pregnant respondents revealed they will not take the vaccine. Some are worried about how well it’s been tested, others about its effectiveness and side-effects. ‘Everyone wants to do the best for their child or unborn child, but many parents seem to be more anxious about the safety of the vaccine than they do about catching swine flu’ said Carrie Longton, founder of Mumsnet.com.
Opposition party legislator Huang Sue-ying on Friday criticized the use of children in vaccine trials in Taiwan. It goes against safety and ethical principles as espoused by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 150 children have been enrolled in the trials. Using them as guinea pigs infringes on ethical principles, Huang said.
In Australia, the nation’s top infectious disease body warned Government in writing that the H1N1 ‘swine’ flu vaccine is being distributed too hastily, with too many risks, and there is no need for mass vaccination. The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases says urgent mass vaccinations are not needed and the multi-dose vaccine vials have been shown to transmit infection, spread HIV and hepatitis, and cause death.
Dr. Gotlieb, Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases president, says no urgency exists because there have been fewer deaths from H1N1 and the epidemic has subsided. Gotlieb and the doctors, working in what appears best interest of the public, have not halted Government mass vaccinations plans that many specialists say will cause a real pandemic.
In many parts of the world, health workers are refusing to take the experimental shots. A study published in the online version of the British Medical Journal, reported that nearly half of health care workers surveyed in Hong Kong earlier this year said they would refuse the swine flu vaccine because of fears of side effects and doubts about efficacy.
That study came on the heels of a United Kingdom poll that showed 30 percent of nurses would turn down the H1N1 shots, and researchers believe it’s a good indicator of health worker reluctance worldwide.
Considering the H1N1 virus is so mild, why are health authorities in Taiwan and elsewhere so keen to force experimental vaccines on children and pregnant women?