More great news from Merck and the CDC

It seems that Merck has issued a recall on the children’s vaccine Hib, which guards against meningitis, pneumonia, and other serious infections. It’s routinely administered to babies beginning around two months of age. The recall covers about 1.2 million doses of the vaccine distributed since April. The recall comes after concerns over risks of contamination at a Pennsylvania factory. So far there haven’t been any reports of contaminated vaccines. Officials say they do not know of a health threat because any contaminated vaccines would lead to irritated skin, at worst. (Credit: NPR) For the record, this vaccine is typically given to children under (way under) the age of 5 and in a 3-shot series.

Now as I’ve said before, I’m not anti-vaccine. I am anti-pushing-them-on-the-youngest-and-most-vulnerable-humans and anti-forcing-them-into-kids-by-threatening-not-to-allow-them-in-schools. And I’m most definitely anti-trusting-of-drug-company-spin and CDC “assurances.”

The AP reports that this will likely result in a shortage of the vaccine for the next 9 months. Merck makes about half of the nation’s annual supply of 14 million doses of Hib vaccine. The CDC is investigating how much more of the vaccine can be obtained from Sanofi Pasteur, the only other company making the vaccine for the U.S. (they say it’s too soon to tell).

Interestingly, if the CDC were really interested in how the timing of the administration of vaccines affects the long term immune system health of humans, they could use this as an opportunity to follow children vaccinated approximately 9 months after the “prescribed” schedule. They won’t. But they could.

Of the 1.2 million doses in the recalled lot, it is not clear how many were administered to children. The CDC, of course, assures us that:

Should the vaccine later prove contaminated, health officials believe most children will experience, at worst, skin irritation around the shot site. Problems could be worse for children with weakened immune systems.

Any problems would have appeared within a week of vaccination, Schuchat said, and there have been no such reports.

I feel comforted by this. Really. I do.

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