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David Carney
David Carney
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Influenza Vaccine and Its Link to Guillain-Barre Syndrome

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The upcoming flu season means one thing: flu shots. Influenza vaccines have become an annual recommendation from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for most people, especially for those under eight years of age and older citizens over the age of 64. There is a big push from the CDC for individuals to vaccinate against the influenza virus. Nearly 9 million additional influenza vaccines have been produced this year compared to the 2010-2011 flu season.

However, with the abundance of influenza vaccines, there is an increasing awareness of its potential serious adverse events, particularly Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is a rare but severe condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves, potentially leading to peripheral neuropathy and progression to paralysis. GBS is an immune-mediated disorder that results from the generation of autoantibodies that attack peripheral nerves. GBS may result from vaccination, as vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce antigen-specific antibodies through an immune process.

The rate of GBS after vaccination was determined to be about seven cases per million recipients worldwide compared with 0.79 cases per million in unvaccinated people. Although subsequent studies have confirmed that a relationship between vaccination and GBS exists, a casual link with influenza vaccine formulations from later years has not been found. Individuals suffering from GBS as a result of the influenza vaccine have been able to seek compensation in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for their vaccine-related injuries.