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Updated: November 19, 2009 22:02 IST

Swine flu shot not causing deaths: WHO

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A health worker prepares a swine flu shot at a clinic in Barcelona on November 16, 2009. The World Health Organisation on Thursday ruled out swine flu vaccine as the cause of death in 41 people who had received the flu shot.
AP A health worker prepares a swine flu shot at a clinic in Barcelona on November 16, 2009. The World Health Organisation on Thursday ruled out swine flu vaccine as the cause of death in 41 people who had received the flu shot.

The World Health Organisation on Thursday ruled out swine flu vaccine as the cause of death in 41 people who had received the flu shot.

WHO vaccines chief Marie-Paule Kieny said deaths investigated by health authorities so far weren’t caused by the vaccine. Further deaths were still being investigated, she added.

WHO spokeswoman Nyka Alexander said the 41 deaths examined in connection with the vaccine occurred in six countries. She was unable to say how many deaths were still being examined.

Health experts have been closely monitoring the safety of the new pandemic vaccine that is being given to millions of people worldwide.

Decades of safe influenza inoculations mean specialists aren’t expecting problems with the swine flu shot, because it’s made the same way as the regular winter flu vaccine.

In some European countries, including Germany and Switzerland, there has been public concern whether the use of adjuvants in vaccines is safe. These additives are intended to boost the body’s immune response and stretch the vaccine’s active ingredient so more doses can be made.

No flu vaccines with adjuvants are licensed so far in the United States, though they are commonly used in Europe.

“The pandemic flu vaccine is as safe as seasonal flu vaccines,” said Ms. Kieny, adding that vaccines against the pandemic flu strain, known as H1N1, have no more side effects than previous flu vaccines.

Out of every 10,000 doses of vaccines administered only one person develops reaction to the vaccine. Five out of 100 reactions are serious, she said.

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