A strange vaccine-related phenomenon spotted in Canada at the start of the 2009 flu pandemic may well have been real, a new study suggests.
Researchers, led by Vancouver's Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, noticed in the early weeks of the pandemic that people who got a flu shot for the 2008-09 winter seemed to be more likely to get infected with the pandemic virus than people who hadn't received a flu shot.
Five studies done in several provinces showed the same unsettling results. But initially research outside Canada did not, and the effect was dismissed as a "Canadian problem," a problem with the flu vaccine used in Canada.
But a new study suggests the findings were real.
But in the meantime, Skow-ronski insisted the findings should not deter people from getting flu shots.
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A vaccine contains a killed or weakened part of a germ that is responsible for infection. Because the germ has been killed or weakened before it is used to make the vaccine, it can not make the person sick. When a person receives a vaccine, the body reacts by making protective substances called "antibodies". The antibodies are the body's defenders because they help to kill off the germs that enter the body. In other words, vaccines expose people safely to germs, so that they can become protected from a disease but not come down with the disease.