Q&A: Vaccine Recalls: Should I Worry?

Q. The recent recall of Hib vaccines was scary. Should we worry that other vaccines might not be sterile?

A. No, you should not worry about other vaccines being sterile. As part of routine testing, the makers of the Hib vaccine found certain bacteria in their manufacturing equipment. However, the microorganisms were not in the vaccines themselves, and there have been no reports of any related infections in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the germs had in fact contaminated vaccines, they would have caused only a skin infection in otherwise healthy children. "Parents should actually be reassured by this recall," says Parents advisor Neal Halsey, MD, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. "It demonstrates that the FDA and vaccine manufacturers respond quickly to a potential problem, even if there's no evidence that kids have been harmed." The FDA requires that manufacturers test samples from each lot of vaccines for safety, potency, and purity before it is distributed.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the March 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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