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Contaminated Flu Vaccine on the Loose in US?

by James Denison / October 16, 2004 4:39 AM PDT

Is this just fear mongering or is there truth to this? I read the same paragraph this blogger refers to and wondered the same thing myself a few days ago.


Researcher Patricia Doyle has uncovered a very disturbing paragraph at the end of a Reuters article dated October 6:

?The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] was working to find out where [Chiron flu] vaccines had already been shipped to providers such as clinics, drug stores and employers.?

The paragraph is, of course, about the explosively widening Chiron flu vaccine scandal.

In previous stories, I?ve discussed the fact that this vaccine, just banned as UNSAFE and CONTAMINATED, was already shipped, in huge quantities, from England to the US, where it has been sitting in distributors? warehouses.

The vials of vaccine have escaped quarantine.

US health authorities are downplaying the situation.


Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford told reporters that inspections and testing in the Liverpool, England, plant owned by Chiron Corp. showed that none of the flu vaccine can be shipped here for the 2004-2005 flu season.

"We believe all of the lots produced here, produced by that plant, are suspect at this point and we cannot allow them to be used in the United States in the interest of public health," Crawford says.

So,....what does that imply about the vaccine that has already been shipped. Maybe everyone WOULD be safer getting a placebo or no vaccine at all this year.

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Maybe not
by James Denison / October 16, 2004 4:55 AM PDT

I'm wondering if ANYONE out there is giving flu vaccine made by Chiron after reading this article. It seems EVERYTHING they've made is suspect and the only safe flu vaccine is made by Aventis Pasteur. Considering how the military always buys things on bid from the lowest bidder, it's no wonder the flu shot always made me sick if this is was the state of things back in the 80's too.


All of Chiron Corp.'s 55 million doses of flu vaccine is tainted and unsafe to use, U.S. health officials concluded Friday -- dashing the government's last faint hope to avert a nationwide flu shot shortage.

None of the flu vaccine was given to U.S. consumers, top American health officials said, because British and American authorities had quarantined supplies pending testing. All flu shots being distributed in America are safe and manufactured by another company, Aventis Pasteur.
(more at link)

When I read this part;

Only six states -- California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Michigan and New York -- report sporadic flu activity.

I began to wonder if those are the states where more flu shots have already been given out (tic). You can
be sure that Florida with their older retired citizens would be one of the first states issuing flu shots.

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We already have had the flu here
by Diane Harrison / October 16, 2004 5:20 AM PDT
In reply to: Maybe not

in California for some time now. It's been passing more at work than at school at first, but now seems to have hit the schools too. Worst part, after/(if) you get over 103 F+ temperatures, is that it seems to bring on bronchitis and pneumonia.

My friend's 15 year old son was still going strong, playing sports this week and trying to ignore the flu symptoms when he suddenly felt horrible and went from 101.9 temperature to 104 in the hospital. Good thing he was there, since he was just at the point of seizures and possible death per the doctors. He has a very bad case of pneumonia now, but at least it looks like he will recover.

Very scary stuff. But we also have West Nile running rampant, with everyone still worried about getting that and assuming it might be West Nile when they get the flu. Don't know which is worse, since we've had several deaths from West Nile too. The shots aren't any more readily available to most folks than anywhere else from what I can tell. Doubt anyone is getting preferential treatment, as far as certain states anyway.

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How certain are they it's the flu and not WNV?
by James Denison / October 16, 2004 6:11 AM PDT

Of course California has a large Asian population, and more travel between there and the Pacific Rim countries via Hawaii, so I wouldn't be surprised if flu came there first, nor SARS this coming year.

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It should be easy enough to tell if it's flu ...
by Bill Osler / October 16, 2004 6:50 AM PDT

There is a test for influenza that we use in the office. It is fairly accurate and results are available in a few minutes. There is a more accurate method (viral culture) that takes several days.

There is also a test for WNV that many laboratories can run. It may not be accurate until about a week into the illness, but it should be helpful.

Of the two, the more important test is the influenza test. That is because we have medication that is effective against influenza but there is not much we can do for WNV other than provide supportive care and hope the patient recovers.

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Gee thanks, James :-P
by Diane Harrison / October 16, 2004 7:38 AM PDT

Yes, they're sure. We know some folks that got hit with West Nile. Real nasty stuff too, with encephalitis being the result, and having the folks end up in nursing homes to recover for quite some time. Mild cases of it seem to give flu symptoms also, but it rapidly goes into real problems within a day or so if it's West Nile, at least from what they're reporting.

The flu was diagnosed. A goodly amount of us use Kaiser Permanente as our HMO. They're pretty good about having the staff and diagnostic tools at hand to test to see what things are. The problem is that it's so busy at the clinics, that we all know better than to go down there with the sniffles. Nearly everyone waits to see if the symptoms get back enough now, before doing much of anything. The local pharmacies are pretty good about telling people what can be used for colds and flu and such. I just really worry about and feel sorry for the people who don't have the funds to have health care. Hopefully they will get assistance to be able to get the help they need in a timely fashion.

Don't wish SARS on us though, thanks. As it is, it's pretty strange to see some people wandering around the streets here and into the grocery stores to shop, wearing the face masks. Not too many people are doing that, and they may have other health issues that warrant it that are personal to them, but it just seems out of place.

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I hope nobody is using any Chiron vaccine that shipped ...
by Bill Osler / October 16, 2004 7:00 AM PDT

I do not know enough about the reliability of the sources to comment on whether any of the vaccine really did get out of the FDA's control. Also, although the FDA will not allow the Chiron vaccine to be sold, that does not mean all of the vaccine is contaminated. This is one place I think one of the links is being a bit alarmist. We know that some of the vaccine is contaminated. We do not really know that the rest of the vaccine is contaminated. The problem is that we cannot say that it is NOT contaminated. The FDA has chosen to err on the side of caution. That does not necessarily mean there has been a problem with any Chiron product in the past or that there will be problems with Chiron products in the future.

As to any vaccine that did ship to distributors, although I'm sure there are people who might try to sell the vaccine, it is difficult to imagine that any responsible physician or nurse practitioner or nurse would be willing to purchase or administer the Fluvirin vaccine at this point.

Then again, it is easy to underestimate how sleazy people can be.

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