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Guillain-Barre Syndrome Very Rare After H1N1 Vaccine
Date:4/13/2010

Rates of the disease among those vaccinated were no higher than in the general population

TUESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- Rates of a rare neurodegenerative disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, among those who received the H1N1 vaccine last year were no higher than among the general population, new research shows.

Because links to Guillain-Barre syndrome were noted after widespread swine flu vaccination in 1976, researchers analyzed information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a public database of voluntarily reported problems after vaccination.

Using a Freedom of Information Act request, the researchers said they also obtained data from the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research, which has more detailed information about reported illnesses, said Dr. Nizar Souayah, a neuromuscular specialist and assistant professor of neurology at New Jersey Medical School.

In 2009, there were 62 cases that had a "high suspicion" of being Guillain-Barre syndrome from among 99 million people vaccinated against the H1N1 swine flu virus, Souayah said. All but two of those cases emerged within six weeks of getting the flu vaccine.

That translated into a rate of about six per 10 million people. The rate in the general population is estimated to be 34 to 400 per 10 million people.

"Although our study suggests Guillain-Barre syndrome may be triggered in some cases by H1N1 influenza vaccination, the very low incidence of H1N1 influenza vaccine-associated Guillain-Barre syndrome makes vaccination the first-line strategy for infection prevention and supports the current guidelines for vaccination," Souayah said.

However, experts from the CDC disagree that there is any evidence linking vaccinations with even a single case of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare but debilitating disorder.
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