The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Conflicting advice offered to pregnant women on H1N1 vaccine

  • Print

TORONTO - Pregnant women are getting mixed messages from federal and provincial health officials about what they should do to protect themselves from the swine flu.

The conflicting advice emerged Friday as officials revealed that the pandemic vaccine intended for pregnant women won't be available when the regular vaccine arrives in early November.

Federal health officials are now advising pregnant women to take the adjuvanted pandemic vaccine that will be available first if they're concerned that they could become infected with the H1N1 virus.

"If you're in the midst of a pandemic, if you do become ill, clearly the risks to yourself and your fetus are tremendous and the vaccine can protect you against this," national public health officer Dr. David Butler-Jones said in Vancouver.

"At the end of the day, if you're in the middle of the pandemic, whatever vaccine is available, I would take it to protect myself and my fetus."

But Ontario's chief medical officer of health maintains that pregnant women should wait and take the vaccine that doesn't contain adjuvant - an additive that boosts the impact of a vaccine - given the concerns about its safety.

"We are recommending that pregnant women receive the unadjuvanted vaccine and we would expect that that vaccine will be available around the week of Nov. 7, and that's what we've been told by the federal government," said Dr. Arlene King.

"They should wait."

The province is still waiting for the federal government to authorize the use of both the adjuvanted and unadjuvanted vaccines, in order to obtain "further clarity" on the issue regarding pregnant women, King said.

Those approvals may include an "allowance" for pregnant women to take the adjuvanted vaccine, depending on what the woman wants to do and whether her community has been hard-hit by the swine flu, she added.

"So it really is very much a balancing of risks and benefits," King said.

The province knew for weeks that they wouldn't be getting the unadjuvanted vaccine "as early as we had hoped," King said.

The World Health Organization has also recommended an unadjuvanted H1N1 flu shot for pregnant women.

While adjuvants have been used for years in Europe in flu vaccines targeted for seniors, there is no safety data for its use in pregnant women and little data on the safety of the additives in vaccines given to children.

The Public Health Agency of Canada initially said it would only buy adjuvanted vaccine, but changed its mind and bought 1.2 million doses of unadjuvanted vaccine to offer to pregnant women.

Dr. Danielle Grondin, the agency's assistant deputy minister, said pregnant women should consider rolling up their sleeves and take the early shot.

A pregnant woman who becomes infected with H1N1 is "among the higher risks to get severe disease and die," she said Friday.

"We have cases like that in Canada, this is tragic. So that means that the risk to be not immunized is far, far higher," Grondin said.

"The adjuvant is safe. I would take it, if I'm so worried."

Pregnant women were supposed to be at the front of the line for the vaccine as a high-risk, priority group, said Liberal health critic Dr. Carolyn Bennett. The delay and mixed messages are further symptoms of how the federal Conservatives have botched the pandemic file, she said.

"The risk in leaving pregnant women exposed for yet another two weeks when we're already a month late is, I think, really problematic for women and their physicians to have to take that decision themselves," she said.

"We're now down to a third of Canadians deciding that they will take the vaccine, and that is a real report card on an utter failure of a public awareness campaign because of all the conflicting messages."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Inside peek at Real Pirates, new Manitoba Museum exhibit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • July 1, 2012 - 120701  -   Canada Day fireworks at The Forks from the Norwood Bridge Sunday, July 1, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you get out and vote for a new mayor and council?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google