Flu shot batch under review, Manitoba not reporting serious side effects

A flu shot that was sent to Manitoba health-care providers is being shelved pending a safety review, but experts say it shouldn’t deter you from getting a shot this year.

The Flulaval Tetra lot number KX9F7 is being investigated after three people in New Brunswick reported adverse effects.

Read more: N.S. medical officer responds to New Brunswick flu shot concerns

Health officials say neurologic symptoms, which included sustained numbness or weakness of the face or limbs, occurred within seven days of receiving the vaccine.

This lot was received and shipped to Manitoba health-care providers between Oct. 22 and Nov. 11.

In a letter sent to health-care providers in Manitoba, the province asked them not to use the vaccine and to “check your vaccine supply for FluLaval Tetra vaccine with lot number KX9F7 and mark ‘DO NOT USE’” on the box.

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Read the letter below:

A spokesperson for the Manitoba government said about 64,000 doses were distributed from this lot.

It’s unclear how many were actually administered. Global News has emailed the province for clarification but has not heard back yet.

In contrast, 525,000 doses were shipped to Manitoba that were not from this lot.

“Although no neurological or serious adverse events associated with this lot have been reported in Manitoba, out of an abundance of caution, providers are being asked to set aside doses from that lot and not use it until more information is available,” a provincial spokesperson said.

“Manitoba is working with federal and provincial partners through the national procurement process to determine how these doses may be replaced, if necessary. There is low risk to the public and no further action is needed from any Manitoban who has already received a flu vaccine.”

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Alyson Kelvin, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University and researcher at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, says seeing a review like this shouldn’t scare people away from getting the flu shot this year.

“A small possible adverse event, that’s not even confirmed as an adverse event, that’s being investigated usually doesn’t make the news. What really comes out of this is there is this robust surveillance system Health Canada has and they’re picking up any possible issues there might be with any vaccine. We can be confident that will be caught if that is a problem,” she said. 

“We all need to be confident that if there was an issue it will be caught in this safety review. Right now the directive is to continue getting the flu shot — it’s known to be safe and effective. There are a number of flu vaccines that have been given without any adverse reactions, which far outweighs these three cases that were found in New Brunswick. Even in comparison, vaccines of the same lot have been given in other provinces, and to many other people even in New Brunswick, without any adverse events.”

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A spokesperson for pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline says it’s launched an internal investigation.

“On Friday, November 13, we learned of the reported adverse events in New Brunswick. We are currently working with the public health authorities in Canada (both at the provincial and national level) to obtain more details. In addition, we have launched internal investigations based on the limited information currently available and will certainly share the outcome of those investigations with the authorities.”

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