Edinburgh protesters march against swine flu vaccine

DEMONSTRATORS marched through Scotland's capital today to protest against swine flu vaccination.

The group believe H1N1 is not as serious as it is claimed, and have concerns about the safety and usefulness of the vaccine.

Around 80 people took part in today's march along Edinburgh's Royal Mile from St Giles' Cathedral to the Scottish Parliament.

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Organiser Claire Knox said they hope the protest encourages people to think twice about getting the vaccine.

She believes that figures for the numbers of people suffering swine flu are not accurate and questioned why vaccination is necessary.

She said: "We're not sure that there is a pandemic as it seems the numbers are exaggerated.

"It appears that swine flu is very mild and there are very few cases and I would like to know why they are trying to enforce this vaccination campaign on us.

"The vaccine has not gone through full length testing so there are safety concerns, definitely.

"We just want to highlight the discrepancies and highlight the manipulation of numbers and get people to question whether they need the vaccine when and if it's offered to them."

The 33-year-old said she would not have her seven-month-old daughter vaccinated against swine flu because she fears the vaccine poses more risk than the illness.

She said that campaigning medical journalist Jane Burgermeister travelled from Austria to take part in the march.

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Figures released by the Scottish Government this week showed that the swine flu vaccine has been taken by just over one-quarter of Scots most at risk from the virus.

Vaccine uptake for pregnant women was 36.7%, while it was 33.2% for under-65s and 20.3% for over-65s, giving an average of 25.5% for the entire at-risk group.

The estimated uptake rate for front-line health and social care staff was 45.7% and 29.5% respectively – both increases on the previous week.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Harry Burns said: "The H1N1 vaccination is not mandatory. However, vaccination is our best defence against the pandemic and I urge everyone invited for vaccination to take up the offer – particularly pregnant women, who we know are more at risk of developing complications if they contract this illness.

"Both H1N1 vaccines have been licensed by the European Medicines Agency and the European Commission. We have always stated that we would only use the vaccine if we have confidence in its safety."