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Parents: Infant formula recalls and recent study on Pfizer COVID vaccine effectiveness for kids during omicron surge

Back on Feb. 17, the company recalled certain lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered infant formulas, but it's just one concern for parents.

MINNEAPOLIS — As stores nationwide struggled recently to stock enough infant baby formula, there's a new concern.

Abbott Laboratories recalled some Similac PM 60/40 cans and cases produced at a Michigan facility, after an infant who was exposed to the powdered baby formula died, according to the FDA.

Back on Feb. 17, the company recalled certain lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered infant formulas following complaints of bacterial infections - including here in Minnesota.

But it's just one issue for parents with small children.

"As a mother of young twins, it's a very challenging time to raise children in this often chaotic world," said Madeleine Gagnon, Vice Chief of Staff at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. 

A recent study suggests the effectiveness of the two- dose Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines for children 5- 11 years old decreased quickly during the omicron surge.

Dr. Gagnon says much of the information coming out on vaccine efficacy relies heavily on data and should be peer-reviewed first.

"This initial data coming out of NY has not really been peer reviewed, but we can kind of project is that there has been waning imunitiy with the vaccine and that is in all age group categories," she said.

The CDC says right now, two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provided protection against COVID-19 in people aged 12–17 years during Delta predominance, but data during omicron predominance and among children aged 5–11 years are lacking. 

Vaccines for the 5-11 age group were recently authorized back in November.

"Certainly, having younger children with lower waning immunity makes sense," said Dr. Gagnon. "They did receive a lower dose than those 12 and over, and I wouldn't be surprised in the spring, to see booster discussions around the 5-11 year olds once they are five months out," she said.

Dr. Gagnon says in the end, the goal of the vaccine is to decrease the severity of illness and death. "What we are seeing is a decreased rate of hospitalizations across the board," she said.

Important information on infant formula recall:

MDH is asking families to check your formula's lot number, located at the bottom of your formula container, using Abbott's web-based tool to determine if your formula is included in the recall. 

WIC participants can return any recalled item purchased with a WIC card to the store where it was purchased, and many are offering substitutions.

Recall notice from Abott: 

UPDATE:  Abbott is voluntarily recalling one lot of Similac PM 60/40 (Lot # 27032K80 (can) / Lot # 27032K800 (case)) manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan. This is in addition to lots of Similac®, Alimentum® and EleCare® powder formula that were voluntarily recalled on Feb. 17. The action comes after learning of the death of an infant who tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii and who we were informed had consumed Similac PM 60/40 from this lot. This case is under investigation, and at this time the cause of the infant’s Cronobacter sakazakii infection has not been determined. We want to extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family.

Importantly, no distributed product has tested positive for the presence of Cronobacter sakazakii. Additionally, recently tested retained product samples of Similac PM 60/40 Lot # 27032K80 (can) / Lot #27032K800 (case) were negative for Cronobacter.

02.17.2022 -  Abbott initiated a proactive, voluntary recall of powder formulas, including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan, one of the company’s manufacturing facilities. The recall does not include any metabolic deficiency nutrition formulas.

Abbott is voluntarily recalling these products after four consumer complaints related to Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella Newport in infants who had consumed powder infant formula manufactured in this facility.

Additionally, as part of Abbott's quality processes, we conduct routine testing for Cronobacter sakazakii and other pathogens in our manufacturing facilities. During testing in our Sturgis, Michigan, facility, we found evidence of Cronobacter sakazakii in the plant in non-product contact areas. We found no evidence of  Salmonella Newport. This investigation is ongoing. 

Importantly, no distributed product has tested positive for the presence of either of these bacteria, and we continue to test. Abbott conducts extensive quality checks on each completed batch of infant formula, including microbiological analysis prior to release. All finished  infant formula powder products are tested for Cronobacter, Salmonella, and other pathogens, and they must test negative before the product is released. Additionally, retained samples related to the three complaints for Cronobacter sakazakii tested negative for Cronobacter. And the retained sample related to the complaint for Salmonella Newport tested negative for Salmonella. 

While Abbott's testing of distributed product detected no pathogens, we are taking action by recalling the powder formula manufactured in this facility with an expiration of April 1, 2022, or later. No Abbott liquid formulas are included in the recall, nor are powder formulas or nutrition products from other facilities.

If your infant is experiencing symptoms related to Cronobacter or Salmonella infection, such as poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice, grunting breaths, abnormal movements, lethargy, rash, or blood in the urine or stool; contact your health care provider to report their symptoms and receive immediate care.

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