Children told to be tested for HIV after flu vaccines reused

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

FORT COLLINS – A clinic in Northern Colorado is advising parents of children who received a pediatric flu shot from their offices to get tested for some blood-borne diseases including HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C after their vaccine syringes were shared between patients.

Med Peds Clinic of Fort Collins sent out a letter on April 6 stating a medical assistant at the office took the pre-measured children’s influenza vaccine and only gave half to each child, assuming it was the adult dosage. Children between 6 months and 35 months are only supposed to receive half of the recommended dosage for adults.

Since children are supposed to receive two doses of the pediatric influenza vaccine within a month of each other, the assistant removed the needle from each half-full syringe, assuming it was an adult dose, and replaced it with a sterile needle, but not a new syringe.

Med Peds says she then placed the used syringes in a box marked “second doses,” which also contained unused, fully-filled pediatric vaccines.

The clinic says some of the half-used vaccines were then used inadvertently on children returning for their second shot.

The medical assistant has been fired, Med Peds says.

“Apparently, somebody wasn’t following policy and procedure and it puts infants in danger, so [I’m] not a big fan of them right now,” father Cary Bergeron, whose infant was vaccinated at Med Peds, said. “She [my daughter] was born flawless, and now, by someone else’s mistake, something bad could happen.”

Med Peds says the first concern for patients is they didn’t receive a full influenza vaccine. They say children between 6 months and 35 months who received two does during the 2010-2011 flu season may need two shots again during the 2011-2012 flu season to be fully vaccinated.

“We are handling this with our patients directly. We have talked to majority of our patients in person. We are a little dismayed that one of our former medical assistants did not follow procedure when handling this,” Dr. Mark S. Simmons with Med Peds said.

The clinic, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and The Children’s Hospital says the chances of a child who was vaccinated with the tampered shot has a very low chance of contracting an infectious disease. The CDPHE still suggests the children who received the tampered vaccines be tested now and again six months from the date of the second dose for blood-borne pathogens like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.

“We are looking into this incident and their practice is cooperating. We have directed the office to notify all patients. We do not believe there is any public health risks outside of the risks to the patients treated at Med Peds. Even that risk we believe to those patients is extremely low,” Mark Salley with the CDPHE said.

The clinic says they are taking precautions to make sure this doesn’t happen again in the future.

“We are writing this letter to express our sincere apology for the mistake this former employee made. Please be confident we have carefully evaluated the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter and have taken steps to prevent future incidents from happening,” the letter that went out to patients said.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)