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Traditional medicine not enough to fight H1N1: health official

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Traditional medicines should be supplemented with modern vaccines when it comes to battling swine flu, says Manitoba’s chief medical officer of health.

Traditional medicines should be supplemented with modern vaccines when it comes to battling swine flu, says Manitoba’s chief medical officer of health.

It shouldn’t be an either-or proposition for people who use traditional and naturopathic medicine but want to protect themselves against the flu, Dr. Joel Kettner said on Friday.

He made the comments in response to statements made Thursday by Morris Shannacappo, the grand chief of the Southern Chiefs Organization, who said he is not sold on the effectiveness of the H1N1 vaccine and is instead choosing to fortify his immune system with traditional First Nations medicines.

Kettner, however, urged everyone of aboriginal descent to get vaccinated regardless of whether they are using traditional medicine or not.

“My experience is that even the most strong supporters of traditional medicine recognize that traditional medicine should not be used exclusively in those situations,” he said.

Although health officials have said people of aboriginal ancestry are at high risk of contracting the H1N1 influenza A virus that causes swine flu and are on the priority list for vaccinations, Shannacappo has refused to get the shot.

The chief of Rolling River First Nation, about 250 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his decision is not intended to influence anyone else.

However, he said he’s making a traditional tea mixture he thinks will help keep the flu at bay and is making it available to anyone on Rolling River who wants it.

Kettner said he supports traditional medicine but strongly advised people to get immunized as well.

“The key here is ? to fully support, encourage and allow traditional healing and medicine to work but also encourage those at risk of severe disease to take advantage of what is being offered here by Manitoba Public Health in the way of vaccines,” he said.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

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