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H1N1 Flu Vaccine Linked to Nerve Disorder

Filed July 12th, 2012 Laurie

A Canadian study published in the 2011 edition of JAMA found that the vaccine used to combat the 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) strain may increase the risk of developing Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within eight weeks, with an excess of approximately two cases of the disorder per 1 million doses of vaccine.

When Quebec launched a huge campaign in the fall of 2009 to control an H1N1 pandemic, a population-based epidemiologic study of GBS was launched at the same time by the chief medical officer of health. A total of 83 cases of GBS were included in the analysis – a rate of 2.3 cases per 100,000 people. A cluster of 56 cases appeared during the 12-week period immediately following the campaign’s launch.

An analysis found an elevated risk associated with the vaccine during the four weeks following vaccination, but the excess risk was only seen in patients aged 50 and older.

Here in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infections Program found a significant association between the vaccine and GBS. However, a U.K. study did not find any significant association between the vaccines administered there and GBS.

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