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Is the H1N1 vaccine pointless?

Amid the growing panic to get the controversial swine flu vaccine, debate rages over whether it’s too little, too late

The H1N1 swine flu vaccine will arrive too late, say Purdue University researchers, who predict the virus will infect 63 percent of Americans, and seriously affect 25 percent. With the pandemic cresting this week, the delayed, smaller-than-expected supply of H1N1 vaccine won’t do much good. And rampant myths aren’t helping either: Louis Farrakahan is calling the government’s vaccine a plot to kill us. Is the shot still worth a shot?

Farrakahan may have a point: The government has a poor track record with swine flu vaccinations, says Yobie Benjamin in the San Francisco Chronicle. Given that 4,000 people were paralyzed or died due to the 1976 vaccine, we deserve “full disclosure” this year: What’s in the vaccine, how it was approved so quickly, and who is the virus killing?"Is the H1N1 swine flu vaccine safe?"Health officials may be panicking, too: Why have the feds stockpiled millions of vaccine doses "at a cost of several billion dollars?" ask Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer in The Atlantic. "And why are physicians being encouraged to hand out prescriptions to large numbers of people without sound evidence that the drugs will help?" Public-health officials may feel "they must offer something, and these drugs are the only possible remedies at hand.""Does the Vaccine Matter?"

Myths are clouding the issue: Sure, swine flu is hitting early and fast, says The Spokane Spokesman-Review in an editorial, but "the myths about the H1N1 vaccine may be spreading more rapidly ...." A third of parents say they won’t let their kids get vaccinated, due to "unjustified" fears spread over e-mail and "uninformed warnings from celebrities like Bill Maher."  (Watch Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh question the vaccine.)"Untruths about H1N1 vaccinations run rampant"

Calm down, everyone: For the most part, says Karen Kaplan in the Los Angeles Times, "these fears aren’t scientifically sound. As the Vermont Department of Health puts it in this excellent primer on H1N1 vaccine safety, ‘Vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza infection and its complications.’ Let’s not forget that one of those ‘complications’ is death.""Was it just me, or are we all jumping to conclusions with swine flu?"

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