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Monday, December 7, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Safer than South Dakota Highways

The state of South Dakota has distributed over 165,000 doses of H1N1 flu vaccine. By next week, we will have had at least one public vaccine clinic in every county of the state. According to the Center for Disease Control's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (it's online! it's searchable! there goes my morning!), as of November 24, it appears 22 South Dakotans have reported non-serious reactions to the H1N1 vaccine. There have been no serious reactions (i.e., death, life-threatening illness, or significant disability). Looking at all vaccines given this year in South Dakota, 92 individuals have experienced non-serious reactions and 3 have experienced serious reactions.

Nationwide, the CDC finds 13 people have died within 19 days after getting swine flu shots. According to the New York Times, nine of those folks had "serious underlying illnesses, and one woman... died in a car crash after leaving the clinic."

Meanwhile, 408 South Dakotans have gone to the hospital with H1N1, and 21 South Dakotans have died of H1N1. And over 4600 people have experienced injury or death on South Dakota's highways so far this year.

The CDC's latest report says that, based on the first couple months of H1N1 vaccine data, the adverse event reporting rate for H1N1 is 82 per million vaccinations, compared 47 per million seasonal flu vaccinations. It would appear your chances of feeling yucky after a swine flu shot are 1 in 12,000, while your chances of feeling yucky after a seasonal flu shot are 1 in 21,000. The report editor notes that those number may not indicate that H1N1 vaccine causes more reactions; the VAERS data is based on voluntary reporting, and the extra attention given to H1N1 may contribute to higher rates of reporting adverse reactions.

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