H1N1 vaccine 'remarkably safe,' NIH director says

CHICAGO — There is nothing unique or scary about the new H1N1 flu vaccine that should keep people from getting it, said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

He said Oct. 19 that the H1N1 vaccine is made the same way as seasonal flu vaccine, and by the same companies.

Yet fears about its safety — some fostered by media accounts and personalities — are raising undue worry.

"The concerns that there might be something unique and scary about this are utterly unjustified," Collins said in an interview with Reuters at the Society of Neuroscience meeting in Chicago. "I would say this is a remarkably safe and effective vaccine," he said, noting that the risks "are about as close to zero as we can measure."

He said the H1N1 pandemic is now widespread in the United States. "It's upon us. There is no part of the country where it is not present in various degrees," he said. "Any notion that this was an unnecessary response is fading away pretty quickly.”

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