Vaccines 'safe' for pregnant women


It is safe for pregnant women to use any licensed swine flu vaccine, whether it contains a “booster” substance known as an “adjuvant” or not, the World Health Organisation said today.

The WHO’s advisory panel on immunisation said while there had been a “few worrisome reactions” to the vaccine, the safety of the medicines were proving similar to the normal seasonal flu vaccines.

"Some adverse events following vaccination have been notified, but they are well within the range of those seen with seasonal vaccines, which have an excellent safety profile," the panel said.

Women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy make up as many as 10 per cent of all patients hospitalised with swine flu.

The WHO panel said one swine flu vaccine dose is enough to protect adults and older children against contracting the H1NI virus.

Adults, pregnant women and kids older than age 10 are protected against the new virus after one shot, it said.

For younger children, one dose should be given to as many as possible while studies assess whether that is enough to protect against the disease, the panel said.

The recommendation comes after conflicting reports on how many shots people should get. Initial results of tests on pandemic vaccines produced by companies including Sanofi-Aventis SA suggested one inoculation protects most adults.

Swine flu, or H1N1, has infected more than 440,000 people worldwide and killed over 5,700, according to the WHO.

The US and Australia have begun a mass immunisation program based on a single-dose regimen. However, several countries in the European Union remain unconvinced and have called for two shots.

The two licensed vaccines in the Republic, Pandemrix and Celvapan, stipulate that two doses three weeks apart should be given.

However, the health authorities hope that further research on the vaccines will prove that sufficient immunity may be acquired from a single dose, and that people will eventually only need only one jab but this has not yet been confirmed.

Rates of infection in the Republic have increased substantially in the past week to 210 cases per 100,000 of the population. The increase in the rate of infection comes as the HSE announced plans to import one million doses of the flu vaccine into the country by Christmas.

An additional 109 people were hospitalised in the past week and 14 were admitted to intensive care.

A total of 109 remain in hospital and 23 continue to be treated in intensive care. Ten people have died in Ireland to date, all of whom had an underlying medical condition.

Additional reporting:   Reuters/Bloomberg