New Brunswick halts flu-shots after neurological side effects reported

New Brunswick Public Heath is reporting adverse events in three individuals who received one specific batch of influenza vaccine which consisted of approximately 85,000 doses. As a precaution, providers who have remaining inventory of this batch will not administer any more doses until the situation can be further investigated. All doses remaining from other batches will continue to be administered.

Health-care providers report adverse events when certain groups of symptoms occur within a certain time after a vaccine was administered; however further investigation is required to determine any causal link to the vaccine.

“Immunization is our best defence against influenza. There is still vaccine available that is not part of this specific batch and we encourage New Brunswickers who have not yet received the flu vaccine to do so,” said Dr. Cristin Muecke, deputy chief medical officer of health. “The risk of experiencing a severe adverse event remains extremely low and anyone who received a flu vaccine more than 10 days ago without an adverse reaction should not be concerned.”

The adverse events were reported in three adults who received the vaccine between Oct. 2-20. The neurologic symptoms, which included sustained numbness or weakness of the face and/or limbs, occurred within seven days of receiving the vaccine.

Through Public Health Information Solution, the province’s electronic health record system that aims to improve the management of vaccines, immunizations and potential disease outbreaks, Public Health has been able to identify the specific batch of influenza vaccine. All providers will not administer any more vaccines from this specific batch if they have any remaining inventory.

“The neurological nature and the severity of these adverse events from the affected batch are unusual for New Brunswick and we need some time to determine if they are linked to the vaccine,” said Muecke. “In the last three years, we have had only one serious adverse event following influenza immunization reported.”

To date, New Brunswick has received over 420,000 doses of influenza vaccine, which represents a 26 per cent increase compared to last year.

“If you experience new onset of neurologic symptoms, seek advice from your health-care provider and let them know if you have received the flu vaccine in the last 10 days,” said Muecke.

Public Health continually monitors adverse events following immunization through policies for reporting requirements and surveillance system. Public Health has advised the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada. An alert has been posted to ensure other jurisdictions are aware of the situation in New Brunswick. At this time, no reports of similar adverse events related to the specific batch of flu vaccine have been conveyed.

Source: Release #notw

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