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Last Year's H1N1 Flu Vaccine Was Safe, Study Finds
Date:2/3/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Close to 100 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine were given out in 2009-2010 in China, with no pattern of serious side effects observed, a review by Chinese scientists finds.

Moreover, no evidence surfaced that the swine flu vaccine, as it was called, increased the risk for Guillain-Barre syndrome, according to the report published in the Feb. 2 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

An outbreak of Guillain-Barre around the time of widespread vaccination against swine flu in 1976-1977 led some to blame the vaccine for the disease. In Guillain-Barre, the body's immune system attacks the nervous system causing muscle weakness and paralysis.

Back then, some 1,000 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome were reported, about half in people vaccinated. Hypothetically, a case could have been made that they were a reaction to the H1N1 antigen in the vaccine, said flu expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University in New York City.

Some concerns surfaced about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine recommended in 2009-2010 against the H1N1 pandemic.

But this study clearly shows that last year's H1N1 vaccine was not associated with increases in Guillain-Barre syndrome, Siegel said.

"If anybody still thinks that pig viruses cause Guillain-Barre at an increased rate, this study shows that's not the case," he said.

Noting that this year's seasonal flu vaccine contains last year's H1N1 vaccine, Siegel said, "there is no reason to be concerned that this antigen is in the current vaccine."

For the study, a team led by Dr. Yu Wang, from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Immunization Program in Beijing, collected data on any adverse effects from the vaccine from doctors throughout China.

In all, 89.6 million doses of H1N1 vaccine were given
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