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Surveillance Needed in Wake of Vaccine Shortage, CDC Says

Investigators warn that incidence of Hib may rise in light of further delay in vaccine supply

MONDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A continued shortage of two vaccines against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) requires heightened Hib surveillance across the nation, according to a report published in the Nov. 21 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

F. Coronado, M.D., of the U.S. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, and colleagues assessed if a shortage of Hib vaccine altered the prevalence of Hib disease. Vaccine production was first halted in December 2007, and on October 17, 2008 it was announced that reintroduction of the vaccines would be delayed until mid-2009. To maintain the vaccine supply, the booster vaccination has been delayed in children not at increased risk for invasive Hib disease.

During the study period from January 2007 to October 2008, 748 cases of invasive H. influenzae were reported in children under 5 years of age. Of these, 6 percent were Hib and 37.2 percent were unable to be classified. The average annual rate of invasive Hib disease among children under age 5 was calculated to be 0.12 cases per 100,000 between January 2007 and October 2008, with the rate increasing to 0.13 cases per 100,000 children during 2008, from 0.11 cases per 100,000 children reported during 2007.

"With continuation of the vaccine shortage, H. influenzae surveillance takes on increased importance because the shortage might lead to increased Hib colonization, transmission, and eventually Hib disease," the authors of an accompanying editorial write.

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