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Healthcare pro says "no" to swine-flu vaccine

In a Tuesday blog, the Colorado Department of Health's Margaret Huffman reassured the public that the H1N1/swine-flu vaccine was safe and said concerns about it weren't dominating calls received on the state's CoHELP info line. If so, that flies in the face of a new Associated Press poll in which more than a third of those questioned called the odds of them giving the okay for their kids to be vaccinated at school "unlikely." Their reasons? Worries about side effects, as well as the sense that H1N1 isn't any worse than the flu bugs that cycle through every year.

Here's an anecdote that enforces the AP's findings -- comments from a healthcare professional who told me she's not taking the vaccine, and won't let her children do so, either.

Yesterday, I had to visit my doctor in order to get a couple of prescriptions renewed, and as his assistant took my pulse and blood pressure, we started talking H1N1. Without prompting, she began talking about safety concerns, arguing that the vaccine had been rushed to market. She was troubled by back-and-forth strategies concerning the number of shots an individual would need to take -- in the beginning, she said, there was talk everyone would need two -- and expressed doubt about its effectiveness even if it didn't prove harmful. In her career, she told me, she'd only taken one seasonal flu shot, during a period when she worked in a hospital, and she wound up getting influenza anyhow. Given that most H1N1 patients coming into the office were getting better even more quickly than sufferers from the other strains going through Colorado right now, she didn't see the vaccine as worth the risks for her or her kids.

That's not a message the Colorado Department of Health would like to hear. But it's going around -- just like the swine flu.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts