Is the H1N1 Vaccine Safe? Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Monday, 02 November 2009 10:53
An independent panel of experts will meet Monday to review the safety of the swine flu vaccine as part of the government's efforts to monitor the unprecedented immunization campaign.


"An Inside Look at H1N1 Vaccine Production"
from 60 Minutes and CBS News

Just over 17M doses of the H1N1 vaccine have been shipped out so far, representing just 14% of the total number of doses that the government had estimated last summer that it would be able to send out this autumn, according CBS' "60 Minutes" program.

The Washington Post reports that the panel will review data from 10,352 people who have received the injected vaccine and 501 have gotten the FluMist nasal spray in 13 studies funded by the Health and Human Services Department's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Of those who received the injections, 6,098 got standard vaccine while 4,254 received shots containing a substance known as an "adjuvant," which is designed to boost the effectiveness but is not being used widely. That included 5,776 adults and 4,576 children.

The summary states that the vaccine has not caused any safety concerns to date, but the limited size of the database is not large enough to exclude the possibility that there could be risks associated with taking the drugs.

A second summary of data collected through Oct. 20 by the National Institutes of Health involving 3,630 children and both pregnant and non-pregnant women, found some adverse health effects, but none directly attributed to the vaccine, the Washington Post reported.

Although the vaccine was produced in record time, federal health officials have issued repeated assurances that there is no reason to doubt the vaccine's safety because it was produced by the same companies that have been making the seasonal vaccine for years using the same process and the same facilities.

The H1N1 influenza that initially surfaced in the United States in mid-April 2009 has already infected millions of Americans, 20,000 of them requiring hospitalization, with a death toll of more than 1000, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What concerns officials is that those numbers reflect cases reported before the start of the typical flu season in the U.S.

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