Questions about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine have lingered, but Schuchat sought to assuage any fear with some of the first safety data available since mass vaccinations began.
"So far, everything we have reviewed is extremely reassuring," she said. "In our look at all of the safety data in the U.S. so far, we are seeing patterns that are pretty much exactly what we see with the seasonal flu vaccine."
The majority of reports (94 percent) are classified as not serious, Schuchat said. These reports concern mostly soreness in the arm or tenderness at the vaccination site. These are common with any injected vaccine, she said.
The CDC has specifically looked at cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, she said. In 1976, the swine flu vaccine was associated with increases in this rare but serious neurological disorder.
But the current vaccine has not led to any problems with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Schuchat said.
Currently, there are 10 reports of potential cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome among vaccinated individuals, Schuchat said. However, "the number of reports, given the number of doses that have gone out there, are not at all notable," she said. "With conditions like Guillain-Barre Syndrome, we think it's important to remember that that happens with or without vaccines, that every week between 80 and 160 people in the United States are diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. So it's not really surprising that we have a few in our reports right now."
Guillain-Barre Syndrome is often severe and is usually associated with ascending paralysis with weakness in the legs that spreads to the arms and face along with complete loss of tendon reflexes. Most people recover, but the condition can be fatal.
In addition, severe allergic reactions are not more common than expected with the H1N1 vaccine, Schuchat said.
Despite this reassuring news, in Canada a batch of 172,000 doses
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