Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Flu spray mix-up occurs at clinic

By Keith Darcé

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at midnight

As many as 18 people who sought swine flu vaccination from a county-run clinic on Oct. 15 were mistakenly immunized for common seasonal influenza, public health officials said yesterday.

The error occurred when a nurse thought two boxes of nasal spray vaccine for the regular flu were doses for H1N1 influenza, said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. Labeling for the two types of vaccine is very similar, she said.

County health officials now mark boxes of swine flu vaccine with a large red “X” to distinguish them from other packages, Wooten said.

They narrowed the possibly affected patients to 47 children and adults who received nasal spray vaccine on Oct. 15 from the nurse at 5202 University Ave. in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood. The county couldn’t determine exactly which people got the wrong inoculations, so the entire group was offered the chance to receive a new swine flu vaccination.

“This was an isolated incident limited to one nurse and one clinic, and we have taken action” to prevent the same mistake from happening again, Wooten said.

The mix-up means that some individuals might have received two H1N1 vaccine doses while others might have gotten a second dose for seasonal flu — if they were previously inoculated for common influenza.

Getting vaccinated twice for any type of flu generally doesn’t pose a health risk, Wooten said.

In fact, two doses of the swine flu vaccine are recommended for children younger than 10 so they can produce enough of a protective antibody response. Researchers also had considered two doses for adults before tests showed that one was enough.

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