Swine Flu/H1N1 Now Most Common Strain – But People Still Can’t Get Vaccines

Influenza Virus H1N1 HA Protein
Image by groovelock via Flickr

The news about the H1N1 virus is not so great right now. As expected, this flu has accelerated its growth going into the Northern Hemisphere’s colder seasons and the World Health Organization now says that it is the commonest strain of flu globally. The WHO samples influenza sufferers worldwide and tracks what strains of flu they have as part of its public health programs – and this information is used in part to predict the flu patterns for the following year and thus create an effective flu vaccine. Recent big outbreaks have been reported in the Ukraine, Venezuela and Australia.

Despite the best efforts of vaccine manufacturers, a Harvard School of Public Health poll has found that only about a third of the people who want an H1N1 vaccine have been able to get one. More supplies are being released and publicity and information about the vaccine is getting better, so those numbers can be expected to improve, but they are still shocking given the huge awareness about the problem over the past six months.

There has also been a lot of rumor and panic about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine. It is all nonsense. The vaccine is categorically safe and anyone in a high risk group or with lots of potential exposure should get the vaccine as soon as they can.

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