Cdn. study links GBS to Flu Shot
AnonymousNovember 14, 2006 at 9:32 am
This article was broadcast on CBC news November 13, 2006 citing a Canadian study linking in some cases, albeit a very few, the onset of GBS to receiving a flu shot. What is new about this study is for the first time that I know of, a scientific study has established a link. Interesting read. (More can be found at the CBC website (cbc.ca).
Last Updated: Tooronto, Canada – Monday, November 13, 2006 | 4:04 PM ET
If you get a flu shot, there’s a tiny chance you’ll get a debilitating neurological disorder, Toronto researchers say — but you face much higher odds of dying from influenza if you forgo the vaccine.
The vaccine has been controversial since the swine flu scare of 1976, when out of millions who were vaccinated, a handful of Americans developed Guillain-Barré syndrome. People with GBS have symptoms that mimic polio. In most cases, GBS reverses itself within a few months, but some people may have permanent damage.
Although suspicions of a link between the flu vaccine and GBS have lingered for 30 years, it has been difficult for researchers to show a cause-and-effect relationship since the vaccine isn’t the only trigger.
To look for one, Dr. David Juurlink of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences at the University of Toronto and his team studied people in Ontario, which introduced universal free flu shots in October 2000 for everyone six months of age and older.
In Monday’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers compared the number of hospitalizations for GBS before and after the immunization program, concluding there was no significant difference.
[B]GBS risk tiny compared to flu. The risk exists, but it is on the order of being hit by lightning, while the benefits of vaccination are substantial, Juurlink said.[/B]
In an average year, one in six Canadians gets the flu. At the population level, the risk of dying of the flu is 1.3 in 10,000, with most deaths among the elderly.
According to Juurlink’s study, the risk of getting GBS from the flu shot is one or two in a million.
Crunching the numbers, it means the risk of dying of influenza if you don’t get vaccinated is 70 times greater than the risk of getting GBS if you do.
GBS landed man in hospital for 2 years
The study isn’t likely to change the mind of Percy Hannesson of Winnipeg, who developed GBS after a flu shot 13 years ago and now avoids the vaccine, along with the rest of his family.
Hannesson landed in the hospital for about two years because of GBS. When he came home, he was unable to feed himself because of damage to the nerves in his hands, nor could he downhill ski or travel.
Hannesson said he doesn’t tell others what to do about the flu shot, leaving it up to them.
After a manufacturing problem delayed delivery of the flu vaccine across Canada this fall, the shots are now going into arms.
Juurlink’s team concluded that people who receive flu shots should be told about the risk for GBS and a surveillance plan should be included in mass vaccination programs.
The study’s findings do not change the risk-benefit for anyone, said Dr. Allison McGeer, a long-time advocate of flu shots for the young and old.
AnonymousNovember 20, 2006 at 8:41 pm
Another newspaper article picked up by Canadian Press, re this Toronto study. It reinforces the importance of “informed consent”.
I came down with GBS Nov 18, 2001, 8 days after getting a flu shot. It left me in hospital for nearly 10 months, and off work for nearly 1.5 years. At the time, there was no mention on the release form which I siged that there was any risk of complications, such as developing GBS. It’s nice to see that today, at least in Ontario, they do mention GBS as a possible complication associated with getting a flu shot.
I have since made an almost complete recovery.
By Sheryl Ubelacker
TORONTO (CP) – [B]In extremely rare cases, getting vaccinated against the flu can trigger a potentially debilitating neurological disorder known as Guillain-Barre syndrome, say Canadian researchers, although they stress their finding should not make people shy away from getting their shots.[/B]
“It is very, very small,” Dr. David Juurlink, lead author of the study by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), said of the risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). [B]”It’s roughly for every million people vaccinated, we’re talking about one or two extra cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome that would not have happened otherwise.” [/B]
In other words, explained Juurlink, “the risk for an individual patient here is marginally greater than being struck by lightning. What we don’t want is people running away from the flu vaccine because of this infinitesimal risk of a bad side-effect.”
So, given that the potential danger is so tiny, why mention it all?
[B]”This a material risk, this is not some runny nose or rash that goes away,” he said Monday. “It’s an illness that is potentially fatal and I think it speaks to the importance of . . . the process of informed consent.” [/B]
“I think the job for doctors and for us as scientists is to try to convey this risk so that people know what they’re getting into, that they’re aware of the meaningful risks of the vaccine. But at the same time, balance that message with a discussion of the benefits.”
Not getting vaccinated could lead to a miserable bout of the flu – including aching muscles, respiratory symptoms and fever – that will eventually run its course. But for some people, influenza can be deadly. Each year, thousands of Canadians die from the flu, among them the elderly and young children.
Contrast that against the small risk of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare condition that typically affects about one in 10 million people worldwide. The disorder occurs when immune system cells mistakenly attack nerve cells that supply strength to the muscles, usually beginning in the legs.
Initial symptoms may include tingling in the feet and weakness in the legs. Untreated, its effects can spread throughout the body. In most severe cases, GBS can lead to paralysis and even death, although the majority of people who develop GBS recover with treatment, Juurlink said.
[B]”This is something that could change or conceivably end someone’s life, even though it is extremely, extremely rare. It’s therefore something to be aware of,” he said. “If they got the vaccine and within a few weeks they start getting these symptoms, they should seek medical attention promptly and get treatment.” [/B]
The study, published in Monday’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, analyzed hospital admission records across Ontario between 1993 and 2004. The researchers identified 1,601 hospital admissions for Guillain-Barre syndrome, 269 of which occurred within 43 weeks of the patient receiving a flu vaccination in October or November.
Patients were about 1.5 times as likely to be hospitalized for GBS in the two to seven weeks after vaccination than they were 20 to 43 weeks later, the study found.
In a second analysis, the researchers looked at the 2,173 hospital admissions due to GBS that occurred between 1991 and 2004 to see if there was any spike in cases after 2000, when universal access to flu shots were begun in the province.
Juurlink said no significant difference in the hospitalization rate was found after the immunization program began.
AnonymousMarch 6, 2007 at 5:26 pm
I read what was said about the flu shot. I have had 3 the 1st one put me down for 5 days and after 40 years I took my 2nd one then in 2006 I took my 3rd one. 5 weeks later I was in the hospital getting IVIG and could not walk. A neuo from India had me go over every thing leadeing up to my GBS and the moment I mention the flu shot she freaked, I was told to never never take the shot again. Many Drs said it is ok but they have now walked in our shoes and till they do it is easy to say it is safe. and why isnt it easier to find it on the warning list for the flu shot in the USA where it can be seen
AnonymousMarch 6, 2007 at 6:25 pm
The Flu Vaccine manufacturers don’t really want you to know that the flu vaccine can cause GBS because they would be losing so much money if everyone really knew the danger of the flu vaccine and all other vaccines.
It’s always about the money, they don’t give a rat’s a_s about the public only their money.:mad: 😡
All the people here who developed GBS as a result of the flu vaccine and other vaccines could have told the idiots who make the vaccines,[B]”Hey we are living proof that the flu vaccine and other vaccines have caused GBS/CIDP for a very long time and no one ever listens to us.”[/B]:mad: 😡
AnonymousMarch 7, 2007 at 4:43 am
I don’t understand at all article’s. for my daughter, i saw the neuro on monday. I told him all my questions about vaccination, for today but for later too. I didn’t know if i should stop all the shots or keep the vaccinations….
my neuro ( professeur tardieu on the CHU du kremlin bicêtre) said that during one year we stop all the shots but after, there are any reason for not continue her vaccinations… He worked alot on the link between gbs and vaccination, and gbs and flu shot, and the link between ( I don’tknox the translation in english: hépatite B and sclerose en plaque). He was master of research programms about this links and he told me that this links aren’t never prooved. Nothing is able to say that there is a cause and effect. but ,for me, I’m not sure what he says. in french, we say “il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu!!!” translation approximatively: there isn’t smoke whithout fire!!! then , I don’t know what I should do for my daugher’s health!!!!
are there more odds to have gbs complications or the poliomyelite, tuberculose…..And later, if she want to be doctor or nurse, she must have all the vaccination!!!!
we don’t know to do. we will see whith the time
I’m sorry for my bowring storie, but I need to talk about!!!!
and sorry for english!! thanks
AnonymousMarch 7, 2007 at 3:10 pm
Well here in the U.S.A. the Center for Disease Control run by the government has a Vaccination Compensation Award panel for people who have developed GBS/CIDP or even worse death from vaccines, so there is definatly a link between vaccines and GBS/CIDP otherwise they would not be compensating people who get these illnesses or die as a result from them.
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