Saturday, July 21, 2012

Medical Professionals Not Sufficiently Vaccinated for Flu in Canberra, Australia / Canberra Times

Canberra, Australia's capital, has about 365,000 people and has a medical school.  Its health staff totals 5,122 people.  Only 48% were vaccinated against the flu this year, down from 60% during the swine flu pandemic of 2009.

But is this a problem?
ACT Health said there have been fewer than five deaths a year for each of the last five years in the capital, including no deaths in 2008 and 2010.
So in the worst case scenario, there were as many as 12 flu deaths in Canberra in the last 5 years, or 2.4 deaths per year, or 6.6 deaths per million per year.  Yet the US CDC estimate for flu deaths is 100 per million population per year.

According to the Australian government,
In most years, minor or major epidemics of type A or type B influenza occur, usually during the winter months. In Australia, 85 deaths and 4250 hospitalisations are notified, on average, per year, although this is almost certainly an underestimate due to failure to recognise the excess mortality and hospitalisation associated with the disease. Extrapolation from US estimates, based on more detailed surveillance, suggests 2000 deaths and 10 000 hospitalisations are likely to occur annually in Australia.
Eighty-five deaths divided by 26 million Australians yields 3.3 deaths per million population per year from flu.  Contrast this with 2-5 excess cases of Guillain Barre syndrome per million people vaccinated for swine flu, unknown other risks from the shot, and the net benefit (benefit minus risk) of flu vaccinations pales.

So, based on US estimates, Australian deaths would be expected to be 24 times greater than the identified death rate from influenza.  But Australia can't find the excess 1,915 deaths yearly.  Despite a national health plan and excellent surveillance.  CDC and WHO have had the same problem.

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