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B.C. may suspend seasonal flu shots

Some provinces already have in wake of H1N1 study

http://www.timescolonist.com/health/suspend+seasonal+shots/2041163/story.html

B.C. might suspend seasonal flu shots as early as Monday for people who aren't seniors, in the wake of a Canadian study that suggests people who get the normal flu vaccine are twice as likely to contract the H1N1 virus.

Several news outlets have reported the preliminary findings of the study, which is still under peer review. Researchers found that those who received the seasonal flu vaccine in the past were more likely to catch H1N1.

While the research was initially met with much skepticism from health officials, several provinces, including Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia, have suspended seasonal flu shots for anyone younger than 65, the Globe and Mail newspaper is reporting in its Monday editions.

Quebec announced its decision Sunday, postponing regular flu shots until January to devote the fall vaccination season to the wave of expected H1N1 infections. New Brunswick, on the other hand, announced last week that it will stick to its plans to offer seasonal flu shots in October.

The B.C. Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport is holding a news conference Monday morning at 9:30 to make what is billed as “an announcement around B.C.’s seasonal flu vaccine campaign.”

Jeff Rudd, ministry spokesman, would not confirm whether minister Ida Chong will announce a suspension of the vaccine.

“I can’t say what [the announcement] is about,” Rudd said. “All I can say is it has to do with the sequencing of vaccines.”

Chong will be joined by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall and Dr. David Patrick, director of epidemiology services for the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Last week, Kendall told CBC News that the uncertainty around how the flu shot interacts with the pandemic flu shot makes “decision-making a lot more complex.”

He said: “It would be very nice to have information cut and dried, and very clear in advance in plenty of time to make the decisions. But that isn’t, unfortunately, the world that we’re living in.”

The lead researchers behind the controversial study were Danuta Skowronski of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and Gaston De Serres of Université Laval in Ste. Foy, Que., according to news reports.

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