Japan: No link between child deaths, vaccines

Japanese experts have determined that four child deaths were not vaccine-related. Ministry officials suspended the two vaccines--Pfizer's meningitis and pneumonia preventive Prevenar (known as Prevnar in the U.S.) and Sanofi's Hemophilius influenza vaccine ActHIB--after four infants died following vaccinations last week.

After reviewing the data, the experts determined the deaths were most likely a coincidence, and no issues were found in the lots of the vaccines used for the children. But Prevenar and ActHIB will remain suspended until more data can be examined. In the U.S., the CDC says it's aware of the deaths, but health agencies "have not detected new safety concerns or unusual reporting patterns," according to a spokesperson.

Pfizer notes it has distributed 2 million doses of Prevenar in Japan since last year, while Sanofi said it has shipped more than 3 million doses of ActHIB in the country since 2008. And 200 million doses of the vaccine have been given to children in at least 120 countries.

- see the Reuters news
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- read the Wall Street Journal's coverage

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