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Common Infant Vaccine Recalled
Date:12/12/2007

Hib shot shields against meningitis, pneumonia, but experts say recall shouldn't be health threat

WEDNESDAY, Dec.12 (HealthDay News) -- Merck & Co. has recalled 1.2 million doses of a common childhood vaccine due to potential contamination during the manufacturing process. But, the vaccine does not pose a health threat, U.S. health officials announced Wednesday.

The company voluntarily recalled two lots of the Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine. Haemophilus influenzae is a group of bacteria that may cause different types of infections in infants and children. They include ear, eye, or sinus infections and pneumonia. The more serious but rare strain can cause meningitis and a life-threatening infection called epiglottitis.

The Hib vaccine is recommended for all children under 5 and is usually given in a three-shot series, starting at 2 months of age.

"The CDC and FDA learned this week that Merck, one of two companies that provide Hib vaccine, is recalling certain lots of the vaccine," Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a late afternoon teleconference. "Right now, this is not a health-threatening situation for children."

There have been no reported cases of adverse effects with the Hib vaccine, Gerberding said. "The recall has nothing to do with the potency of the vaccine, so children who have received the vaccine are protected," she said.

Gerberding noted that Haemophilus influenzae type B is a bacteria and has nothing to do with influenza virus.

Before the Hib vaccine, there were about 20,000 cases of Hib diseases in the United States each year, leading to about 1,000 deaths, according to the CDC.

"But thanks to the vaccine there are fewer than 100 documented cases of Hib disease in the entire United States each year -- a reduction of over 99 percent," Gerberding said.


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