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Vaccine recall not local

Local health officials are reporting that to their knowledge, none of the recalled H1N1 pediatric vaccine was dispersed in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina Division of Public Health was in the process of contacting 132 health care providers across the state who received H1N1 pediatric vaccine from four lots that were voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. North Carolina received 17,900 doses of the about 800,000 doses impacted by this recall. These vaccinations were intended for children ages 6 months to 35 months of age.

While the word “recall” may lead some to believe there is a major problem with the vaccine, state and local health officials said there is no reason to worry.

“There are no safety concerns with these lots of H1N1 vaccine,” State Epidemiologist Megan Davies said. “The concern is that the recalled vaccine may not be strong enough to provide full immunity. However, children in this age group should have adequate protection because we already recommend they receive two doses of the vaccine.”

The vaccine is being voluntarily recalled because the manufacturer determined the antigen content, which is the component in the vaccine that causes immunity to a virus, is slightly below the specified range. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the vaccine in these lots still offers protection against H1N1 influenza. The CDC does not recommend doctors re-administer flu shots to those who received vaccine from these lots.

“We did not receive any of the recalled vaccine at the health department here in Jackson, but I can’t say for certain that any of the other medical providers in Northampton County did or did not receive those affected lot numbers,” Northampton Health Director Sue Gay said Wednesday afternoon.

Gay added that state health officials were scheduled to let her office know if the low-strength vaccine wound-up at Northampton medical providers.

“We have not received any such notification from the state, so I’m hoping that no news is good news,” Gay stated.

Gay did note that children under age 9 are scheduled to receive the vaccination in two doses.

“For those children who have received the initial dose that has now been determined not to be at full strength, it makes it imperative they go in to receive the second dose in order to protect themselves from the virus,” she stressed.

According to Barbara Earley, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Hertford County Public Health Authority (HCPHA), none of the recalled vaccine has found its way anywhere locally.

“Even if it did, this is nothing to worry about from a safety issue…this is an issue where the recalled vaccine lacks potency,” HCPHA Public Information Officer Kathryn Sellers said.

Sellers added that the vaccine was manufactured by one particular drug company and there are only four total batches in question.

“These were pre-filled syringes for pediatric use only,” Sellers noted. “This recall is not linked to any other types of H1N1 vaccines, including the nasal mist and adult doses.”

She said those who may need more information concerning the recall can contact the HCPHA, their family doctor or visit the CDC website.