Severe vaccine reactions rare: health chief
Out of 6.6 million H1N1 vaccinations, there have been 36 reported serious adverse reactions to the vaccine in Canada and one suspected death as of Nov. 7, says the chief public health officer.
David Butler-Jones announced at a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday that the number, which is just less than one serious adverse event per 100,000 people, is in line with what health officials anticipated. "We expect to see some serious adverse events," he said, adding that most have been anaphylactic reactions — in which the body experiences a massive allergic reaction that can be life-threatening — or convulsions brought on by fever.
The vast majority of reactions to the vaccine are minor, he emphasized, such as a sore arm, a mild fever and malaise.
Conversely, there has been a surge in deaths from the H1N1 virus, bringing the total of people who have died to 198 countrywide. "This week we're seeing a sharp increase in deaths associated with H1N1," said Butler-Jones. "It's still difficult to predict who will get very sick."
He said the second wave of the flu is now in full swing. "We still have the other side of the hill to come down."
To date, one in five Canadians have received the flu vaccine, a number that Butler-Jones hopes will grow. He said that "all Canadians will be able to receive the vaccine before the end of December.
"We will have enough for everyone."