Although to date the H1N1 (or “swine flu”) vaccine has not been released, there is already talk about it becoming mandatory. Concern among parents and others, including people who have not vaccinated before, is that this time they should.
When deciding whether to vaccinate of not, consider that even though swine flu has spread rapidly across the world, most people who had it experienced unusually mild flu symptoms. In rare cases it affects the lungs causing pneumonia, which could become life-threatening.
Though I believe that the risk of these severe complications can be all but eliminated with a few natural precautions, no one can prove definitively that this is so.
Also consider that the swine flu vaccine is not just the usual flu vaccine adapted to a new strain, it is a newly engineered vaccine. Given how quickly it is being developed, it is impossible to rule out the risk of potentially severe side effects that may only become apparent after the vaccine is released in the population.
There is a historic precedent to this. In 1976 the United States was hit by a similar swine flu virus and, just like today, there was a great deal of concern for its possible deadly consequences. Also just as we are seeing now, there was a huge rush to produce a vaccine that, once released, was found to cause an often-fatal neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).
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