Canadian health officials discount vaccine "myths"

Fri Oct 23, 2009 6:25pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadian health officials expressed frustration on Friday over what they said were myths about the danger of getting vaccinated against H1N1 flu.

Canada's immunization program is just getting under way with the federal health department, Health Canada, giving final approval this week to a vaccine produced by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, ruling it is safe and effective.

But officials acknowledge there are public fears that the vaccine could be more dangerous than the disease.

"There are a lot of myths out there," federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.

Complaints about the potential dangers of the program, which are often spread over the Internet, include allegations that people will end up contracting flu from the vaccine.

There have also been media reports that the preliminary finding of a Canadian study had suggested that the disease might be linked to past immunization efforts for seasonal flu.

Canada's chief public health officer, David Butler-Jones, said the alleged dangers are not supported by scientific facts, and the fears are often the result of people making inaccurate assumptions.

"It's sort of like saying that ice cream causes hot weather because (we see) more ice cream cones on hot days," Butler-Jones told reporters, saying that some immunization critics are "making up the facts".   Continued...

<p>Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq (L) visits a lab that tests for the H1N1 flu virus at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver, British Columbia October 16, 2009. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>