CDC: Few Serious Reactions After Swine Flu Vaccine
Chances of Neurological Disorder Seen in 1976 "Vanishingly Remote"
By Cathryn Meurer
WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Dec. 4, 2009 -- Serious reactions after receiving the H1N1 swine flu vaccine
are rare and not significantly higher than those seen from the seasonal flu
vaccine, according to a briefing at the CDC today.
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Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, presented preliminary safety data and
confidence that the H1N1 vaccine will not be dogged by Guillain-Barre syndrome,
the neurological disorder that was associated with the 1976 swine flu
"The likelihood that we'll have a 1976-like problem with this year's H1N1
influenza vaccine is vanishingly remote," said Frieden.
H1N1 flu cases fell off somewhat during the Thanksgiving week, with
widespread activity reported in 25 states, a drop from 32 states in the
previous week. Still, 17 children died last week of laboratory-confirmed H1N1
flu, bringing the number of child deaths to 210. That's three times the number
of flu deaths expected in children at this point in a normal flu season.
"This virus is a much worse virus for younger people. The number of people,
not just children, but young adults under age 50 who will get severely ill or
die from this virus is much higher than it is from seasonal flu," said
Tamiflu Shortage Coming to an End
Liquid forms of the antiviral drug Tamiflu should be easily available now,
according to CDC. The agency distributed the drug from the strategic national
stockpile until manufacturers could catch up with demand.
Frieden says the agency is seeing a dramatic improvement in the treatment of
children who are severely ill with influenza, due to the use antivirals like
Tamiflu. In most years, only one in five sick children arriving at a hospital
have been started on an antiviral. This year, 80% are getting early treatment,
which helps prevent severe illness.
The vaccine supply is increasing as well, with 73 million doses of the H1N1
swine flu vaccine available this week and another 10 million coming next week.
Top priority for getting the shot should still go to people in the high-risk
"Vaccination is the single best thing you can do to protect yourself and
your family against the flu," Frieden said.
SOURCES: CDC news conference.
Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, director, CDC.
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