We over 64 are last in line for swine flu vaccine, though at high risk for swine-flu complications--and yet to my knowledge the only serololical (chemical) or "hard evidence" testing from which it is claimed we may have "some immunity" to the new virus was a study in May of blood samples from 100 or so persons; in this study, about 1/3 of the over-64 persons' blood showed some immunity, and samples from other age groups showed less immunity. Is our national (and international) policy that denies this vaccine to elders based on this 100-person sampling? Or is there any convincing, definitive epidemiologic data? (I know the early data could have simply indicated expolsure patterns.) One to two months ago, vaccine trials began with pre-vaccine blood sampling from the volunteers--aimed in part at discovering whether over-64s had any such immunity; obviously, the CDC and NIH felt the evidence insufficient otherwise to claim such immunity existed. But what are the results of that sampling? We have heard the good news from the trials, but what about the news re over-64s' possible pre-immunity? And if the trials show no such pre-immunity, or very little, will we seniors still be denied swine flu vaccine? When we be told, before or after the pandemic peaks?
Updating my comment here, cross-reactivity to the 2009H1N1 virus in serology samples from over 400 persons, 115 of them seniors, was reported in the Sept 10 NEJM. Here, too, approximately 33 percent of "seniors" showed an apparent immune level of antibodies to the virus. However, as may be seen in the graphs accompanying the abstract and article, this percentage peaked for persons alive at the time of the 1918 flu, and for seniors born after, or perhaps in, the 1930s is barely higher than for middle-aged adults. Further, an Australian (U. of Melbourne) study this summer showed that the epidemiology of this new virus may be no different from that of any other new type-A flu---which may indicate that the virus has simply not reached seniors yet, not that they are especially immune. The CDC sticks stickily by its figures showing relatively few cases among seniors, but the figures it release in the past couple of days (I write on Oct. 9) go back to last spring (making one wonder just what figures--what sample size--the CDC had based its earlier epidemiological conclusions about this virus on). So in short we don't know how this virus may behave, even if it does not mutate, in re seniors--yet continue to put them last for vaccine. Assuming, that is, that any non-"risk-category" adults ever get this vaccine this season; at the rate it's coming in, out in the rural area where I work, non-"risk category" persons won't be seeing a drop of vaccine before mid-January at the very earliest. By which point, of course, we wonder, will it still be being distributed? Any of you medical professionals out there know the answers to any of these questions?
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