Monday, October 5, 2009

Health: 1976 Swine Flu Vaccine Complications:

Sept. 22, 2009

How safe is the highly touted new H1N1 swine flu vaccine? The government says early research is positive, but the last swine vaccine, years ago, caused deadly side effects in some. Medical Reporter Stephanie Stahl has the exclusive story of one Montgomery County families' ordeal.

Precious memories for Maggie Goldstein of Cheltenham as she looks through pictures of her husband Sam with their young son that he'd never see grow up. Sam was just 32 when he died in 1977. It was a month after getting a swine flu vaccine.
"We had no idea that there were any side effects." said Maggie.

Back in 1976, scientists feared a deadly swine flu strain was spreading. President Ford gave the go ahead for mass vaccinations.

"The government was really it up. It's coming, you've got to protect yourselves, and the only way to protect yourself was to get the swine flu vaccine," said Maggie.

But the outbreak never materialized and after 43 million Americans got shots, over a 10 week period, a problem was discovered. 500 people suffered severe side effects. Sam was among 25 who died.

"I was devastated. I wasn't even 30 and how could I be a widow?" said Maggie.

Sam had a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome. When he was vaccinated, no one knew it could cause dangerous complications. Scientists also discovered that vaccine also triggered the syndrome.

Maggie was among a handful of families to receive government payments for deaths related to the vaccine. They received a check for $900,000.

"Couldn't they have done, I mean said something gee I'm sorry. There was never any, nothing. It's like he didn't exist," said Maggie.

"We frankly don't know why there was that rare adverse event in 1976, and there's never 100 percent guarantee that you're not going to see an adverse event now," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

But federal health officials say the swine flu of 1976 is very different from the current virus, and so is the vaccine.

"It's never occurred since. If you look at all the influenza vaccines that we have given, the billions and billions of doses of influenza vaccines that had been given both before and after 1976 we've never seen it again," said Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of Infectious Diseases at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The government says there will be scientific proof the current vaccine is safe and effective before it's distributed.

"I don't trust them. Just like I don't trust the CDC and what they're saying. And I don't exactly know who to trust," said Maggie.

Getting the upcoming H1N1 vaccine is voluntary, and only certain high risk groups, like pregnant women and children, are among the first group to receive it. Federal health officials say the risk for complications is very rare.

No comments:

Post a Comment