The recent swine flu epidemic took the world unawares and many lives were lost mainly due to the ignorance of this life-threatening disease. There were many wondering if there is a cure for this disease which was, slowly turning into an epidemic. The governments then came together and decided to create a vaccine to curb this epidemic that was taking a toll on lives globally. With collective effort, Tamiflu and Relenza, the vaccines for swine flu came into existence. This vaccine was effective in curing this disease to an extent, but it also had its own share of side effects.
Swine Flu - A Brief Snapshot
Swine flu (or swine influenza), which is also known as Mexican flu and pig flu, is a harmful viral infection that is caused by H1N1 virus. There is no certainty from where this swine flu virus originated, but there is a general belief regarding pigs being the carriers of this deadly virus. It is a communicable disease that is caused due to H1N1 virus. This virus enters the body through the mouth and nose and if a healthy person comes in contact with an infected individual. It attacks the immune system and causes a myriad of diseases, mainly respiratory disorders.
The people who are easily susceptible to this disease are pregnant women, young children, individuals who have a history of respiratory or lung diseases, etc. Since the symptoms, like common cold, chills, fever and headache, were more or less similar to ordinary influenza, the seriousness of this disease was not known until people who showed these symptoms began to die. The cause of death was usually due to pneumonia, dehydration, resulting because of excessive diarrhea and vomiting, and respiratory failure. The first case was identified in April 2009 in Mexico, from where it spread quickly to other countries of the world, making it a pandemic.
The need for a vaccine arose and two vaccines Tamiflu and Relenza were developed, tested and prescribed in doses and distributed to clinics and hospitals to treat and prevent the occurrence of another pandemic. There are two forms of Tamiflu vaccine that were made available to treat swine flu - pills and injections. This vaccine was effective in treating the symptoms of swine flu, but some individuals began to show certain negative effects and intolerance towards this vaccine. The side effects produced by the vaccine, depended on its dose and the body's reaction to it.
H1N1 Vaccine Side Effects
The side effects of swine flu vaccine administered through injection may be similar to the side effects of ordinary influenza vaccine. These symptoms may last for about two to three days after taking the vaccine. Given below are some of the ill effects of the vaccine that can be observed after getting an injection or using nasal drops. A failure to identify and treat these side effects, in the initial stages, can aggravate them and also have life-threatening consequences.
Common Side Effects
These side effects may be seen a couple of days after the administration of the drug. It is caused since the body does not accept the medicine and treats it as a foreign object.
- Pain and swelling at the site of injection
- Appearance of a bruise
- Itchy rashes
- Body pain
- Tiredness and a feeling of malaise
- Profuse sweating
- Shivering or chills
- Fainting spells (as observed in teens)
- Nasal congestion
- Swelling of the glands in the neck, armpit and groin
Rare Side Effects
These side effects are uncommon in nature and may affect only a few cases. However, these side effects may be serious in nature and require prompt treatment, before it leads to other complications.
- Nausea induced vomiting
- Severe diarrhea
- Tingling sensation in the hands and legs
- Numbness in certain parts of the body
- Skin allergies
- Extreme lethargy
- Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is an autoimmune disease that affects the peripheral nervous system
Pregnant women and lactating mothers must consult a health care provider before taking Tamiflu, since the effect of this vaccine on the child is not known. In order to prevent any of the above-mentioned swine flu vaccine side effects, individuals who are allergic to oseltamivir phosphate, the main ingredient in the vaccine, must consult a doctor before taking it. Also maintain proper hygiene to avoid contracting swine flu. There are also a few herbal remedies for swine flu that are equally effective as the prescription drugs. These remedies, be it herbal or drugs, should be taken only under the strict guidance of a medical practitioner to avoid untoward effects. Take care!