• Canada’s Pandemic Preparedness Plan and H1N1

    by  • 11/5/2009 • news • 13 Comments

    I’m a bit tired of hearing complaints about the flu shot campaigns on twitter, facebook, and other social sites where lies and misinformation spread quicker than real information. The problem with the truth about things in science is that they often require more than 140 characters to do justice.

    If it’s not complaints citing Alex Jones blog posts about how the government is trying to kill us with an “untested” vaccine or trying to implant us with microchips or other crazy, it’s about how the government isn’t following through or how some corporation wants to see people suffer. Crazy is one thing that you can’t really fight against, but misinformation may have a chance at being corrected.

    “Glaxo is screwing up the vaccine shipments!”

    “The government didn’t order enough!”

    “There’s a shortage of vaccine! OMG! We’re going to die!”

    I’ve seen variations of all of those sentiments from people on social networks. Sadly, much of the panic could have been avoided had the various governments in Canada and the news media been more upfront with plans, with numbers, with facts. Instead, we have people envisioning ebola or flesh eating disease.

    Relax just a bit; most people who do contract H1N1 are going to be just fine, after they feel like they’re going to die for a week with the flu. The flu is horrible and debilitating, and that’s my primary reason for getting the shot; I don’t like fevers.

    Here in Toronto, people are being asked to allow the more at risk to go first so that the clinics can get them first. Now, more at risk includes a lot of people by Ontario’s guidelines; going so far as to allow for the herd. If you are in Toronto and you have daily contact with someone at risk or someone who can’t get the vaccine, then you should head to the Toronto clinics and get the shot.

    I have been hearing horrible stories from other provinces, of clinics not following the guidelines for patient selection, etc. Alberta and Nova Scotia are sounding badly planned, with very narrow selection criteria for priority treatment.

    I went to the downtown Toronto clinic yesterday afternoon at 4:30pm. From filling out the form to injection, I was in line for five minutes and spent five with the person doing the actual injection. They request that you stay for 15 additional minutes of monitoring by health workers, on the minor chance that you have an allergic reaction. I left after a total time commitment of half an hour; in exchange I have a really good chance of avoiding feeling like crap for a couple weeks.

    Andre Picard from the Globe and Mail has an interesting summary of the timeline in Canada’s vaccination campaign, with some really surprising numbers.

    In the real world, it takes about six months to produce industrial quantities of vaccine. You harvest some seed stock and then you grow the virus in eggs. It takes time.

    Canada decided early to err on the side of caution and invoke its pandemic preparedness plan. That includes ordering enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of the population with two doses each.

    Fast forward to the fall. Production of the actual vaccine actually begins. There have been no delays. The vaccine started rolling off the production line at GlaxoSmithKline in Ste-Foy, Que., in October. It had to be tested and then held for a certain time to ensure there is no contamination.


    13 Responses to Canada’s Pandemic Preparedness Plan and H1N1

    1. Your Daddy
      11/6/2009 at 2:00 pm

      So you believe that injecting the vaccine which contains carcinogens and neurotoxins is a better idea than a week of illness?

      Location: Fredericton, NEW BRUNSWICK, Canada (University of New Brunswick)

    2. xinit
      11/6/2009 at 2:27 pm

      Tell me what those carcinogens and neutotoxins are, and we’ll talk.

      Keep in mind that there’s a poisonous chemical in absolutely everything you eat… Even a little bit of it could kill you dead in seconds, but you eat it every day. AMAZING!

    3. Christopher Mercer
      11/6/2009 at 3:16 pm

      It’s better than a week of illness that could kill a perfectly health human!

      Show me one vaccination program that has killed multiple people!

    4. xinit
      11/6/2009 at 3:26 pm

      I’ll answer that one… The 1976 flu vaccine actually has more deaths attributed to it than to the actual flu that year. That’s only because there was only ONE death attributed to that year’s “swine” flu.

      How many have died from H1N1 already?

    5. Christopher Mercer
      11/6/2009 at 3:28 pm

      70 in Canada as of a few days ago.

    6. nico
      11/6/2009 at 3:52 pm

      92 deaths, 351 ICU admissions ( presumably req. ventilator assistance), 1779 cases.

      Mostly healthy adults, a handful of kids. (from globe and mail, and that’s as of Oct 24th so probably more now.)

    7. 11/6/2009 at 6:19 pm

      On 11.06.09 xinit wrote these pithy words:

      I’ll answer that one… The 1976 flu vaccine actually has more deaths attributed to it than to the actual flu that year. That’s only because there was only ONE death attributed to that year’s “swine” flu.

      How many have died from H1N1 already?

      Wait now, the 1976 flu vaccine killed more than the 6000+ linked H1N1 deaths?

      115 Canadian Deaths as of Nov 5th.

      In July CBC reports 49 deaths and 10,000 H1N1 Incidents in an article. There were 211 deaths in the US by that point linked to H1N1 exclusively.

      Contrast against the deaths from the 1976 swine flu vaccine… none known. There may be a link between that vaccine and Guillain-Barré syndrome where 500 cases probably caused by the vaccine, of which 25 people died. Though no definitive proof has ever surfaced to prove the link between vaccine and GBS.


    8. xinit
      11/6/2009 at 8:22 pm

      I didn’t say anything about the ’76 variant in relation to the ’09 one; just that more people died from the ’76 vaccine than from the ’76 flu – which is what I think you asked about.

      I once saw an estimate of ~25 people having died from the ’76 vaccine (not counting GBS or other issues); and 25 is definitely higher than the 1 that is attributed to dying from the ’76 flu.

    9. 11/6/2009 at 8:55 pm

      Well what I am saying is you are wrong.

      There is no proof that the 76 variant vaccine caused GBS of which the 25 people died. You can’t say they died of something that is unproven. That’s bad science. It’s suspect yes, proven no.

      The actual facts are that 1 person more died of H1N1 in 76 than of the vaccine.

    10. xinit
      11/6/2009 at 9:29 pm

      “Overall, there were 1098 cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) recorded nationwide by CDC surveillance, 532 of which were linked to the NIIP vaccination, resulting in death from severe pulmonary complications for 25 people…”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swine_flu which has some decent citations.

      Did you read the summary on the article you linked to at Pubmed?

      “The evidence for a causal association is strongest for the swine influenza vaccine that was used in 1976-77. Studies of influenza vaccines used in subsequent years, however, have found small or no increased risk of GBS.”

      There’s a decent amount of correlation and plenty of study into the cause of GBS; enough so that even my favourite doctor of infectious diseases (everyone has oa favourite one of those, right?) and my favourite neurologist don’t have any problem linking GBS to the 1976 flu vaccine. I’m not suggesting that the flu vaccine causes GBS – Dr. Crislip in the piece I link below admits that the REASON for the link isn’t clear, but it’s clear that there was a link that was peculiar to that instance.


      Seriously, go read that – he has an excellent podcast too, in case you want to learn about all the invisible things that can kill us in this world… Well, two, actually; Pusscast and Quackcast.

      Vaccines carry risk, and it’s a trick of statistics that the anti-vaxxers use all the time; MORE PEOPLE DIED FROM THE VACCINE in 1976 THAN DIED FROM THE FLU! Technically true, but it’s a lie of omission, where they don’t mention that only one person is known to have died from the flu…

      I believe that you asked for an example of a vaccination program that has “killed multiple people.” Multiple means “more than one,” and I would hazard a guess that ALL vaccination programs have killed more than one person.

      You read my article about pedantry earlier today, right?

    11. xinit
      11/6/2009 at 10:09 pm

      I mentioned this link via twitter, but thought I should include it here as well;


      Steve Novella, my favourite neurologist, about the flu vaccine and GBS

    12. 11/9/2009 at 2:00 pm

      Xinit is right to say that there was only 1 death due the ’76 outbreak of H1N1, but this is probably because it was confined to Fort Dix. If that outbreak would have been pandemic like this year’s H1N1, you could be sure that mortality would have drastically increased.

      I am skeptical of wikipedia’s claim of 25 death attributed to the vaccine…the 3 citations don’t specifically mention that number (from the abstracts), they just quote one of the authors. Don’t get me wrong it might be true. But where does he get that number, if he actually said that quote? If he got that number from the US VAERS database, it’s probably a wrong number since that database is only useful for temporal association, not causal.

      I think we agree here that vaccines are very safe. and relating to GBS, it’s pretty established that the flu causes way more cases of GBS than vaccine. Vaccines have been proven that they DECREASE incidence of GBS.

      Way to go to reference Neurologica and SBM posts. They’re really informative. They should be read by all people who are undecided about getting the H1N1 vaccine. Deetee has another great post on vaccines and GBS here: ( http://www.layscience.net/node/625 )

      And for a more “sciency” review, go here: ( http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/339/sep09_1/b3577?view=long&pmid=19740925#REF16 )

      Oh and big ups to this post’s author, I feel the exact same way. People seem to make their minds up more from facebook or youtube these days. That’s just effed up.

    13. xinit
      11/9/2009 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks, Avicenna. I wrote the original post because I got sick of hearing people moan and complain about how the government or GSK were screwing up the deployment, etc.

      I’ve been nothing but impressed with how Ontario is functioning, but my evidence for that is limited to anecdotes from my wife’s visit and my own visit to the downtown Toronto location.

      I was especially impressed when I showed up, expecting to wait for two hours, only to be free to leave in under 30 minutes.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *