Thousands of flu vaccines recalled

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The Preflucel vaccine is used in patients with allergies to egg

THOUSANDS of doses of flu vaccine are being recalled over fears they are making patients ill.

Around 300,000 Preflucel vaccines are being withdrawn from doctor’s surgeries and pharmacies across the Europe, with 2,500 being recalled from Scotland.

The move comes after health chiefs warned that a batch manufactured in September is causing more side effects than normal.

Patients treated with the drug have suffered muscle pain, fatigue and headaches.

Medical staff in Scotland have been warned not to use any Preflucel until further notice, while an investigation is carried out by the manufacturers and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

Reactions

But last night the Scottish Government insisted there was not threat to health and said those who had already received the vaccination should not panic.

More then 1.1million doses of other vaccinations have been ordered instead.

Unlike most other flu vaccines Preflucel, which was approved for use in March, does not contain eggs, making it ideal for patients with allergies.

At least two Scottish health boards have been administering the vaccine to patients, but both NHS Highland and NHS Grampian said the numbers had been small.

And NHS Grampian urged patients not to turn their backs on the vaccination programme.

A spokeswoman said: “The recall was ordered as a consequence of a higher-than-expected rate of adverse reaction. The reactions are well known.

“Any patient who did not react is fine. Anyone who did would be managed by the treating clinician.

As always, NHS Grampian strongly recommends everyone in at-risk groups should be vaccinated. The seasonal flu vaccine gives 70% to 80% protection against infection with influenza viruses.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We are aware of a voluntary recall of Preflucel and have alerted the NHS in Scotland.

“Only around 2000 doses (out of 2,500 bought) of this specific vaccine have been made available to the NHS in Scotland, and this recall does not affect the flu vaccination programme, for which over 1.1 million doses of other flu vaccines have been ordered.

“We are not aware of any side effects having being reported inScotland.

“Individuals who have been vaccinated with Preflucel should not be concerned – most of the side effects are those usually associated with flu vaccines, they have started shortly after the vaccination and have been mild and short-lived.

Replacements

“The vaccine is being recalled because these side-effects have been more frequently reported with this specific batch.

“Individuals with severe egg allergies can continue to be safely vaccinated with low-egg vaccinations, which are available.”

Preflucel, which is manufactured by Newbury-based Baxter Healthcare, is one of 13 flu vaccinations available to patients.

Last night the company urged anyone with concerns to visit their GP.

A spokeswoman said: “As a precautionary measure Baxter has decided to voluntary withdraw a single batch of its seasonal flu vaccine Preflucel inEuropebecause of an increased reporting rate of adverse reactions associated with this batch.

“In the UK the relative number of doses being withdrawn is minimal in comparison to the overall number of doses of flu vaccine available in the UK.

“Baxter has proactively been in contact with the regulator and will continue to closely monitor incoming safety information for Preflucel.

“Baxter is working with its customers to co-ordinate the return of the affected doses and are endeavouring to try to provide replacement doses where possible.

“If patients have any concerns they should contact their GP.”


 

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