WHO Says Vaccine Is Most Important Tool Against H1N1

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday, vaccine is the best tool against H1N1 notwithstanding reportrs of a few minor side effects from the initial campaign in China.

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said, four out of 39,000 people vaccinated against swine flu in China have had side effects such as muscle cramps and headache.

"Adverse events are fully to be expected, especially these mild types," Hartl said, adding that this was particularly true in cases where very large numbers of people are being vaccinated.

The vaccination campaign will soon move to Australia, the United States and parts of Europe, he said, encouraging people — especially health care workers — to be vaccinated.

"The vaccine is the single most important tool that we have against influenza," Hartl said. "For certain groups such as health care workers, it's doubly important to get vaccinated because health care workers have the ability to protect both themselves and to protect others by getting vaccinated," The Associated Press reports.

Reuters quoted WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl as saying, "It is important to remember that the vaccines, which have already been approved, have been used for years and years and years in their seasonal vaccine formulation and have been shown to be among the safest vaccines that exist."

Hartl, asked whether WHO was concerned by reports that some people were reluctant to be injected with the new vaccine, said: "Certainly we have seen the reports. Again, we would restate that the most important tool that we have to fight this pandemic is the vaccine."

"We would hope that everyone who has a chance to get vaccinated does get vaccinated," Hartl told Reuters.

The United Nations agency declared in June that the H1N1 virus was causing an influenza pandemic and its collaborating laboratories have provided seed virus to drug makers worldwide to develop vaccines, Reuters reports.

It was also reported, most people will need one dose each of the swine flu vaccine and the regular winter flu vaccine. But health authorities believe children under 10 will need two doses of the swine flu vaccine, about three weeks apart. And some very young children getting their first regular flu vaccination will need two doses of it, for a total a four inoculations.

The Food and Drug Administration is assuring the public that the vaccine in safe.

The H1N1 vaccine is made in the same way as the regular winter flu vaccine, which is used with a very few minor side effects by nearly 100 million Americans a year. There’s no reason the H1N1 vaccine should react any differently, officials said, and no red flags have appeared in studies of several thousand people, Boston Herald reports.