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Supply of Key Children's Vaccine Almost Back to Normal
Date:6/25/2009

CDC says production shortfalls that limited booster shots nearly over; Hib can cause bacterial meningitis

THURSDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- A children's vaccine that's been in short supply for 18 months is now being produced at levels that allow its traditional widespread use, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

Beginning in December 2007, the agency recommended that parents forego booster shots for Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), an infection that can lead to bacterial meningitis. A booster shot of the vaccine was traditionally recommended for children at ages 12-15 months, but that was curtailed following a shortfall in supply from one of the two manufacturers of the vaccine, Merck & Co.

At the time, the CDC said the shortage meant that shots should be restricted to the initial series given to infants at 2, 4 and 6 months of age.

But as reported in the June 25 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, "the supply of Hib-containing vaccine is now sufficient to reinstate the on-time booster dose administration of Hib vaccine at 12-15 months for all children who completed the primary series."

While Merck continues to suspend its production of the Hib vaccine, another company, Sanofi Pasteur, plans to boost production of its two Hib vaccines, starting in July, to meet the demand, the CDC said.

However, supplies are still somewhat limited, and the CDC does not recommend that children who missed the booster shot during the past 18 months rush out now to get the vaccine. "Although supply is sufficient to reinstate the booster dose, there is currently only enough supply for limited catchup," the CDC noted. Parents of children who missed the booster shot at 12 to 15 months should wait until their "next routinely scheduled visit or medical encounter" and discuss the situation and their particular child's
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