H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: GSK approval, vaccine updates, Tamiflu resistance, weekly deaths double in Europe

Nov 11, 2009

FDA approves Glaxo's H1N1 vaccine
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said yesterday it received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of its pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine. The government has ordered 7.6 million doses of the unadjuvanted vaccine, and plans call for shipping all the doses in December, the company said. The vaccine will be produced in multidose vials at the GSK plant in Quebec. The other four companies providing H1N1 vaccine to the US government received their FDA approvals in September.
Nov 11 GSK news release

FDA head advocates for pandemic vaccine
FDA CommissionerMargaret Hamburg, MD, sent a letter to physicians yesterday thanking them for their patience in dealing with pandemic vaccine delays and highlighting the important role they play in preventing serious illnesses and deaths from novel H1N1 flu. The letter describes how the vaccine is made and how officials are monitoring safety. Though most physicians support vaccination, some say they hesitate to get vaccinated themselves or recommend it to patients.
Nov 10 FDA press release

Father of sick boy develops oseltamivir-resistant H1N1
Canadian doctors today described a case of oseltamivir-resistant pandemic H1N1 flu in a father who underwent prophylaxis then developed flu symptoms after his son was diagnosed with a confirmed infection. In a letter in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the doctors wrote that their findings support limits for once-a-day postexposure prophylaxis and suggest that patients who develop flu symptoms during prophylaxis immediately start taking the twice-daily treatment dose.
Nov 11 N Engl J Med letter

Online tool helps locate flu shots
A collaboration among Google, the American Lung Association, and the US Department of Health and Human Services has produced a searchable interactive map that displays government and private offices where seasonal and H1N1 vaccines are available, including location and contact details. The tool currently covers chain pharmacies in 50 states and health agencies in 20 states, with more data being added.
Google FluShot

Canada's plan to vaccinate Afghan detainees draws fire
Canada's military said it would vaccinate Afghan detainees against H1N1 on a case-by-case basis, but none of the suspected Taliban members had yet been vaccinated, the Toronto Star reported today. The plan drew objections from Canada's health minister and from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Meanwhile, the Miami Herald said the US government shipped 300 vaccine doses to the Navy base at Guantanamo for high-risk personnel such as healthcare workers, but not for prisoners.
Nov 11 Toronto Star report

Pandemic deaths doubling weekly in Europe
Deaths caused by the novel H1N1 flu have doubled in the European Union (EU) in 3 of the past 4 weeks, Bloomberg News reported today. Drawing on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the news agency said the number of deaths per week rose over the past month from 12 to 24 to 49 to 43 and then to 84, with a total of 414 in the EU and European Free Trade Association.
Nov 11 Bloomberg News story

CDC urges pneumococcal vaccine for risk groups
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday sent a letter to healthcare providers warning that pneumococcal infections have been seen in some fatal pandemic H1N1 cases and reminding them to offer the pneumonia vaccine to those who are currently recommended to receive them. It urged special emphasis on vaccinating those under age 65 who have high-risk conditions, because coverage rates are especially low and they may be more likely to develop secondary bacterial infections.
Nov 10 CDC letter

GBS reported in boy who received H1N1 vaccine
A 14-year-old Virginia boy developed symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) within 18 hours of getting a pandemic vaccine, MSNBC reported today. His mother had taken him to the health department to receive the seasonal shot, where they also offered the H1N1 vaccine. It's not clear if the boy received both. The CDC said five GBS cases have been reported so far, not including the boy's. It said the rate is less than expected; 80 to 120 cases are reported in the general population each week.
Nov 11 MSNBC story

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