A Canadian study found that the H1N1 vaccine may have saved some lives in the province of Ontario. The study, conducted by an economist with the province’s government, was published in the journal Vaccine. It found that, without access to the vaccine, an additional 420 hospitalizations, 28,000 visits to hospital emergency departments, and 100,000 visits to doctors’ offices would have occurred.
Ontario spent $180 million to offer vaccine right before the peak of the second wave of the virus in the fall. The government study also cautions that the program would not have been cost effective if vaccine had been offered any later. All told, the vaccine may have saved up to 50 lives by averting several million cases of swine flu.
A British study published in the medical journal Thorax described the characteristics of those submitted to hospital for cases of H1N1. While some had underlying conditions (mainly asthma), the study found “59 percent of all in-hospital deaths occurred in previously healthy people.” Obesity is also mentioned in the study as one of the conditions physicians recorded in medical records that may have led to more severe cases of the virus.
Based on the findings, vaccination is recommended for pregnant women, children under the age of five, and those with chronic lung conditions—even if these conditions may not be severe.