O H1N1 shotI heard about the recall of about 800,000 doses of H1N1 shots intended for children 6-35 months today. The news doesn’t scare me at all. Zilch-o. Zippo. Zero. And I scare easily. I jump in the seat in the movie theater when it’s loud or dark or someone does something scary.  Really.

This recall does not affect how I will continue to encourage families to get their children immunized. This is not a recall due to safety concerns.  I strongly remain in support of immunizing all children against H1N1, especially those with infant siblings, those under age 2 years, or those with underlying health conditions.
I heard about the Canadian reports of fever in children after the second dose of H1N1, too. None of this makes me hesitate. The H1N1 shot is produced in the same way that the seasonal flu shot has been produced for 60 years. 

The recall announced today is a voluntary recall by vaccine maker, Sanofi Pasteur, who feels that the recalled doses are slightly below the level of what is ideal to create a good immune response. However, there is no need to re-vaccinate your child even if they received one of these doses. Furthermore, these “lower potency” shots were in doses intended for children between 6-35 months, who would get two shots in total for a complete H1N1 series.

The CDC says, and I quote (and interpret in the parentheses):
“While the antigen (the particles that stimulate your child’s immune response) content of these lots (of vaccine) is now below the specification limit for the product, CDC and FDA are in agreement that the small decrease in antigen content is unlikely to result in a clinically significant reduction in immune response among persons who have received the vaccine. For this reason, there is no need to revaccinate children who may have had these doses.”

If it were my child, I would get the H1N1 shot(s). I did, see. That’s O in the above photo during the 3rd week of October. Both of my children are under age 4 and at higher risk for developing complications including hospitalization, severe infection or even death from H1N1 flu. My kids got their first H1N1 shot as soon as it was available and their second dose 1 1/2  weeks ago. We were really scared of getting H1N1 at the time. Now, we’re not.

Getting my kids the H1N1 shot was not a “leap of faith.” I would never want to have to take that kind of “leap” when thinking about how to care for and protect my children. Especially if I had a choice. I was terrified about getting H1N1 virus in my household.  Like everyone else on the globe, the media and the uncertainty about H1N1 evolving last spring had simply made me crazy-worried. I definitely lost sleep (and fingernails) about this. However, as the summer unfolded, while we learned more about H1N1 flu and the risks for children, and I saw more and more patients with the infection, I knew I wanted to avoid it in my household.

My rationale for my own children is the same rationale I use when advising my patients. I got my kids vaccinated as soon as I could because I felt their risk of getting H1N1 influenza virus and having a complication was far greater than any risk from the vaccine. I agree with Dr Offit when he said, Nothing to Fear but the Flu Itself.

I read and have watched daily reports of vaccine safety, side effects and thought trends of H1N1 here in the US and worldwide. I watched the Campbell Brown interview when Dr Oz said he wasn’t getting H1N1 shots for his own kids. I vehemently disagree with Dr Oz on this point. I would scream that to you if I could. You’d see my uvula.

Fortunately, for the week ending Dec 8th, we are continuing to see decreasing amounts of circulating H1N1 in the US; we only have 14 states reporting widespread infections. This is down from ½ the country reporting widespread infections just one week prior!

This is all good. Part of this is due to vaccinations protecting children and high-risk individuals, and part of this is likely from the virus moving through communities, schools and work places. And moving out.

But like I said, if it were my child, I would still get an H1N1 immunization. And I’d get the booster one month later for children under age 10.  Hands-down.  No question about it.
Get your children vaccinated for H1N1.  Protect your family from H1N1

Then, go wash your hands.  Repeat.