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Only 12% of Germans say they will have H1N1 vaccine after row blows up over safety of adjuvants

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 21 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4335
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. 1Hamburg

    Concerns are growing in Germany about the safety of the swine flu vaccine that will be available to the general population after news was leaked last weekend that top politicians and some government employees will be given an alternative vaccine.

    State and federal health officials announced in August the purchase of 50 million doses of Pandemrix, the H1N1 vaccine produced by GlaxoSmithKline. Pandemrix contains an adjuvant that includes squalene and boosts the effectiveness of the vaccine, meaning a much smaller amount of inactivated virus is needed for an effective dose. However, some experts say that adjuvants can produce inoculation reactions, such as headache and fever, or possibly even longer term side effects.

    Michael Kochen, president of the German College of General Practitioners and Family Physicians, told the BMJ that Pandemrix has not been sufficiently tested to be declared safe for millions of people, especially small children and pregnant women. His main concern is the adjuvant.

    He will not take the vaccine himself and has advised doctors in the association not to give it to …

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