Like most parents, I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to get my children the H1N1 vaccine
this year. In the end, I decided to do it, and my eldest daughter just received her second booster shot for the vaccine last week. So I was more than dismayed to hear the latest news that hundreds of thousands of swine flu shots for children have been recalled because tests indicate the vaccine doses lost some strength.
The recall is for about 800,000 pre-filled syringes intended for young children, ages 6 months to nearly 3 years. The shots, made by Sanofi Pasteur, were distributed across the country last month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) most have already been used.
I was concerned at first that the vaccine doses were being recalled because they were harmful to the kids who received them, but thankfully, that's not the case. Dr. Anne Schuchat, a CDC swine flu expert, stressed that parents don't need to do anything or to worry. The vaccine is still safe — the issue is the vaccine's strength. Tests done before the shots were shipped showed the vaccines were strong enough, but tests done weeks later indicated that the strength had fallen slightly below required levels. No one is sure why the vaccine's potency dropped.
So what should parents of young children do if they think their child might have received one of the recalled shots? Nothing. Children in that age group are supposed to get two doses, spaced about a month apart. According to the CDC, children don't need to get vaccinated again, even if they got two doses from the same lots.