The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) are requesting neurologists to report any possible new cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) following 2009 H1N1 flu vaccination using the CDC and U. S. Food and Drug Administration Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
It is not anticipated that the 2009 H1N1 vaccine will have an increased risk of GBS. However, out of an abundance of caution, and given that GBS may be of greater concern with any pandemic vaccine because of the association of GBS with the 1976 swine flu vaccine, the CDC and AAN are asking neurologists to report any potential new cases of GBS after-vaccination as part of the CDC’s national vaccine safety monitoring campaign.
The Academy plans to reach neurologists and other healthcare professionals to encourage reporting cases of GBS following vaccination. “The active participation of neurologists is going to be critical for monitoring for any possible increase in GBS following 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccination,” said Orly Avitzur, MD, MBA, FAAN, who is leading the AAN effort. Resource materials, including upcoming webinars, will be available on www.AAN.com.
All neurologists nationwide who encounter patients with adverse events post-vaccination should use the CDC and FDA Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to report their observations. Information on VAERS and case report forms will be available on AAN.com and at the VAERS website at http://vaers.hhs.gov.
The 2009 H1N1 vaccine is currently in production. Vaccination among high-risk groups – including infants, children, and young adults ages six months through 24 years, pregnant women, adults 25 and older with underlying health conditions, and healthcare workers – will begin this fall and will continue through the flu season.
Neurologists are doctors who specialize in treating neurologic disorders such as GBS, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, causing tingling and weakness in the arms and legs. Most GBS cases are treatable, but a few can be fatal.
For more information on GBS, visit the AAN’s Web site for the public at http://www.thebrainmatters.org. For more information on the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, visit the CDC’s Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu.