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Illness Reported After H1N1 Vaccine

Nov 12, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Less than 24 hours after being inoculated against the H1N1 Swine Flu, a young Virginia boy has come down with the dangerous, often debilitating Guillain-Barre syndrome, MSNBC is reporting.

Jordan McFarland (14), is wheelchair-bound and developed severe headaches, spasms, and leg weakness, said MSNBC, and is expected to need to use a walker for up to six weeks and will have to undergo “extensive physical therapy,” following his shot. Jordon is not the only case, and this is not the first time a swine flu vaccine has been associated with the serious disorder, noted MSNBC. In 1976, there were increased reports of Guillain-Barre connected to that year’s swine flu vaccine; to date, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received five reports of the syndrome since October 6, reported MSNBC, in addition to Jordan’s.

While less than what is expected, according to Dr. Claudia J. Vellozzi, deputy director of immunization safety, about 40 million H1N1 vaccine doses have been made available, said MSNBC. Guillain-Barre is expected to develop in about one in each one million regular flu vaccinations, with one more case of the syndrome in every 100,000 people receiving swine flu vaccinations in 1976, said the CDC, reported MSNBC.

And, while the CDC says it has received some 1,700 reports of adverse events associated with the new swine flu shot—four percent, or 68, were deemed serious—Guillain-Barre Syndrome is considered one of the most severe of the reactions, said MSNBC. Experts believe the adverse effects experienced with the H1N1 virus are more serious than the vaccine.  “The H1N1 illness is making lots of children very ill," Vellozzi said. Over 4,000 have died, to date, said MSNBC, citing recent CDC estimates.

Since the implementation of the H1N1 inoculation program, the CDC has issued warnings about an array of conditions, such “miscarriage, heart attack and even GBS” that can take place with or without the vaccine and has urged the public to report any potential side effects, but not to assume the vaccine is connected, said MSNBC.

Barbara Lowe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center in Vienna, Virginia, explained that adverse events are underreported with a mere one-to-ten percent reported to the government's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), according to MSNBC. While a law implemented in 1986 mandates reactions be reported, there are no so-called sanctions for failing to report, said Fisher; the CDC confirmed that reporting is voluntary, noted MSNBC.

The Associated Press (AP) just reported that, according to federal health officials, at least 4,000 Americans have died from the swine flu, which is an increase of four-fold over what is being released in estimated figures. The AP noted that the increased figure was previously reported by The New York Times and also includes fatalities resulting from swine flu complications, such as infections and pneumonia.

The AP also said that, according to the CDC, "many millions" of Americans have been diagnosed with the pandemic virus since in April and that the World Health Organization (WHO) said physicians should not wait for lab results when dealing with pregnant women and at-risk groups who may have the swine flu.

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