Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Nurse faces dilemma over vaccine

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ON the front lines of Manitoba's defences against H1N1 stand the nurses who will be handing out the much-anticipated flu shot.

But one Winnipeg nurse isn't about to roll up her sleeve.

Margaret Hartle, who works at a nursing home, said she is too scared to get vaccinated because she had a flu in September and is unsure how her body would react to the shot.

Hartle said she had flu-like symptoms in the beginning of September, which was too early in the season for the regular flu. She was not allowed to go to work for a week and the doctor diagnosed her with a viral infection. Since Hartle had milder symptoms and did not need a ventilator, she was not tested for H1N1 flu.

Karl Weiss, a microbiologist at Montreal's Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, has said that those who have confirmed cases of H1N1 should not get the vaccine because "their immune systems could overreact horribly."

Hartle has already received the seasonal flu shot and would like to get vaccinated against H1N1, but she has been unable to get reliable advice on what to do.

"Since I don't know if I had H1N1 flu, I don't want to take the risk by getting vaccinated, because if I did have H1N1 -- which means I would be immune -- and I went to get the shot, I could react very poorly to it," she said.

"There needs to be more research and people looking into things like this. A lot more people are choosing not to risk getting the shot, but I am scared to think what will happen if the virus mutates and all these nurses and other people didn't get the shot because of being unsure."

Dr. Sande Harlos, medical officer of health with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said she does not know what research Weiss might have based his opinion on.

"There is no risk about taking a vaccination if a person already had H1N1, it just is unnecessary and won't have any effect as the individual would have built up natural immunity," Harlos said.

She said those such as Hartle who had unconfirmed cases of H1N1 flu should get vaccinated to be sure they become immune.

 

eva.cohen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 24, 2009 A10

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