posted by Dr John Crippen at 7:54 PM
The latest immunisation problem has been badly handled by the government.
Britain's medicines watchdog has authorised the recall of 21,000 doses of a Meningitis C vaccine used to immunise young babies due to contamination fears.
The affected batches of the vaccine, which is sold under the trade name Menjugate, were delivered by the manufacturer, Novartis Vaccines, in January and February. So far 21,000 doses have been sent out to GPs and clinics.
That is 21,000 doses of the immunisation scattered around the country.
[The Governemnt], the MHRA and Novartis have all issued assurances that the recall is purely precautionary and there is "no evidence" that the vaccine is tainted or poses a risk to health.
Im sorry, that will not do. Weasel words and prevarication. No wonder people worry about immunisation. It gets worse.
Novartis, which manufactures the vaccine in Italy, said it had discovered traces of Staphylococcus Aureus in the aluminium hydroxide solvent in which the vaccine is suspended
Look, there is Staph Aureus and Staph Aureus. Do they mean the common-or-garden, harmless staph that the world and his wife have on their skin, or do they mean MRSA?
A Department of Health spokeswoman stressed that the recall was precautionary and that it was not aware of any baby suffering an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
Not aware of can only be taken to mean there might have been but we have not yet been told..." And what are you supposed to do if you child has recently had this immunisation?
If people have had this vaccine recently and are concerned, contact your GP or NHS Direct.
I just checked the NHS Direct website. As of 7.30 pm tonight, there is no mention of contaminated vaccines on it. You might as well cut out the middle man and phone your GP immediately. And what can I tell you about it? Only what I have read in the newspapers. Has the government offered me any up to date advice? No it has not. Is there any advice on the Department of Health website? No, there is not (again as of 7.30 pm 26 Febraury.)
The vaccine was made in Italy. Are Italian children at risk? Well, who gives a toss about them. Not Dr Ged Lee it would seem.
Dr Ged Lee, from the MHRA, stressed that the move was a precautionary one and that none of the samples that had come to the UK had been contaminated.
He said: "The batch that was contaminated I can reassure you was not distributed into the UK and I can also reassure parents that the product that has been used in the UK has passed all the necessary quality standards and is perfectly safe."
The xenophobic implication of Dr Lees statetment is appalling.
What is the real position? To be honest, I suspect that no harm will be done. But I dont know for sure. So what advice will I be giving my patients? Simple. Dont have this immunisation until we are certain
that we have safe vaccine. I do not know when I will be able to say that.
The government statement should have contained phrases like "profound concern", "immediate action", "no stone will be left unturned" etc etc. There should have been unequivocal
advice for all parents. And for all doctors. Wishy-washy remarks about there being "no evidence of harm" are not enough.
The job of defending the immunisation programmes is difficult enough without this incompetent complacency.