Shortages of vaccine dose lead
to temporary suspension
Due to possible vaccine shortages, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American
Academy of Family Physicians are recommending that health care providers
postpone the final dose of the four-dose pneumococcal vaccine series
until the supplies are restored.
The limited supply was first reported in December and Wyeth Vaccines,
the only U.S. supplier of the 7-valent pneumococcal vaccine, has since
announced that supplies will remain limited at least through July 2004.
The shortage is a result of production problems at Wyeth.
The vaccine can help prevent serious pneumococcal disease such as meningitis
and blood infections. Invasive pneumococcal disease is responsible for
about 200 deaths each year among children under five years old. It is
the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the United States. Children
under two are at highest risk. Before a vaccine is available, each year
pneumococcal infections caused more than 700 cases of meningitis, 13,000
blood infections, and about five million ear infections.
The recommendation calls for health care providers to administer one
dose at two months, one dose at four months, and one dose at six months.
However, doctors should continue to give the fourth dose to children
at increased risk of severe disease. The CDC believes that the fourth
dose can be safely withheld in healthy children. Those children whose
booster dose is postponed should receive PCV7 on their first visit after
supplies return to normal. This recommendation is not expected to have
any harmful health consequences for children.
The CDC estimates that the recommended action will help conserve more
than one million doses by July 2004.
April 2004 Update
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