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Safety Concerns over Swine Flu Vaccine

As health officials give up on the idea of preventing the spread of the swine flu virus in Finland, safety concerns are being raised in this country and elsewhere over the prospect of a rapid introduction of a vaccine for the H1N1 virus.

Rokoteruisku lääkärin kädessä.
Image: AP Graphics Bank

Finland has ordered a total of ten million doses of the vaccine from two different manufacturers, with a price tag of about 45 million euros. This means that the necessary two doses per person will be available to nearly every Finn.

Jyrki Kuoppala, the chairman of Rokotusinfo ry, an organisation which disseminates information about vaccinations on the Internet, says the haste with which a vaccine is being developed could entail a health risk.

“Politicians are under pressure to deal with the pandemic. This leads to a risk that a vaccine might be taken into use which has not been tested or researched sufficiently."

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health says that the first of the vaccines will arrive in Finland as early as September. The ministry says that the vaccines will not be administered until they are sufficiently studied.

“The safety will be ascertained either by making sure that the vaccine has a sales licence in the EU, or by making sure in other ways that there is sufficient research information,” says Merja Saarinen of the Ministry of social Affairs and Health.

Fears of Conflict of Interest

Jyrki Kuoppala of Rokotusinfo ry says that relations between health officials and companies selling vaccines are too close. He notes that a company that sells vaccines in Finland spends millions of euros in funding research in the field.

“For instance, a study is currently underway at children’s health clinics on a vaccine for pneumococcus. There is a considerable conflict of interest in that the same expert organisation that recommends getting a vaccine helps the vaccine manufacturer by implementing vaccine research on behalf of the manufacturers,” Kuoppala says.

Sources: YLE

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