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Officials: Swine flu vaccine is safe

Announcement comes as local vaccination clinic is prepared for Dec. 4

Posted: November 25, 2009 9:06 p.m.
Updated: November 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Federal health officials reported Wednesday that there is no evidence the swine flu vaccine is causing any serious side effects - their first report on the safety of the new vaccine.

Meanwhile, county and city officials are preparing for a free swine flu vaccination clinic in the Santa Clarita Valley next week.

Since vaccinations began in early October, the government has been tracking the safety of the swine flu, or H1N1, vaccine. By mid-November, about 22 million Americans received the vaccine and there were about 3,200 reports of possible side effects - the vast majority for minor conditions like soreness or swelling from the shot.

Health officials didn't expect to see any serious problems - the swine flu vaccine is basically the same as the regular winter flu vaccine. And there weren't any signs of trouble in the tests done in thousands to find the right dose.

Still, it is "very reassuring" to see that confirmed in their first report, said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The vaccine data so far really suggests this is a safe vaccine," she said at a press conference in Atlanta on Wednesday.

Locally, the vaccination clinic is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 4 - or until health officials run out of the vaccine. It will be held at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

The vaccination drive aims to inoculate individuals living with or caring for infants younger than 6 months of age, individuals 6 months to 24 years of age, and individuals 25 to 64 years of age with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or weakened immune systems.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health was forced to scrap an October swine flu vaccination clinic scheduled for the Santa Clarita Valley because of the limited availability of the vaccine.

Only a few million doses of swine flu vaccine were available at the beginning of the campaign, but about 50 million doses have now been shipped, and the supply continues to increase, Schuchat said.

The investigation into possible side effects from the vaccine focused on reports of a rare paralyzing condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

That condition was seen in higher numbers than usual during a swine flu vaccination campaign in 1976, a development that contributed to the program's cancellation.

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