By Candy Lashkari
When it comes to some diseases prevention still is better than cure and swine flu is one such disease. The sheer global panic that gripped nations last year is hard to forget. The PanvaxH1N1 vaccine is specifically manufactured to target the influenza (A) H1N1 strain known more popularly as swine flu. Getting the flu shots may be crucial in prevention of spread of the highly contagious disease. Health officials say that the H1N1 strain of flu is still circulating but at low levels.
The Washington State Health Department has just lifted a limit on the amount of thimerosal that can be added to the H1N1 swine flu vaccine so that pregnant women and children under three can be immunized. The limits were suspended last fall when supplies of mercury-free vaccine were limited, possibly preventing vaccination of pregnant women and children under three who wanted to be immunized.
Thimerosal has been added to the majority of swine flu vaccines last year and this year as it was produced in large vials with medication for 10 shots. The preservative has a mercury compound which kills bacteria and lowers the risk of the drug getting contaminated by needles used to withdraw separate doses from the vial. Although the preservative thimerosal has not been linked to any health problems, the compound has had a murky history with many believing a link to autism exist, however to date no conclusive evidence of this link has been found.
Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said that, “Pregnant women were hit especially hard by H1N1 infections and younger children were at high risk, so we wanted to give them vaccine options. Suspending the limits made the vaccine more widely available to vulnerable people at a time when supplies were low and production was slow, but that’s no longer the case. There’s plenty of vaccine for everyone, and vaccination is the best protection against H1N1”.
The vaccination is being touted as the best protection against both swine flu and the seasonal flu. Children under ten need two shots and children over ten need just one dose. The effects of the pandemic which hit the world last year are now being studied in terms of public health impact now.
“We conclude that the 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic virus had a substantial health burden in the US over the first few months of circulation in terms of years of life lost, justifying the effort to protect the population with vaccination programs," says a report, published by PLoS Currents: Influenza.