New Brunswick Public Health officials have identified the specific batch of a flu vaccine and are ordering the disposal of the remaining doses after three people became ill shortly after receiving the injection.
The identified batch contained about 85,000 doses. Providers will not administer any vaccines remaining in the batch.
“Adverse effects” were reported in three adults who received the vaccine between 2 and 20 October, according to a press release. Authorities confirmed the situation on Saturday.
Dr Cristin Muecke, deputy chief medical officer for the province, said New Brunswick residents who have not yet been vaccinated against the flu should get the vaccine.
“The risk of suffering a serious adverse event remains extremely low and anyone who has received a flu vaccine more than 10 days without an adverse reaction should not be concerned,” said Muecke in a statement.
The source of health complications remains under investigation and it has not been determined whether the vaccine was the cause.
Public Health states that the symptoms occurred after about seven days and included numbness or sustained weakness of the face and limbs.
Dr. Caroline Quash, an epidemiologist at the Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal, said the reactions include Guillain-Barré syndrome, transverse myelitis and Bell’s palsy.
Quash said Bell’s palsy is not associated with reactions to influenza vaccination, leaving two cases that could potentially be related. She said it is important not to jump to conclusions.
“The cause has not been established,” she told Radio Canada. “We need to see if there are other reasons that can explain the emergence of these two syndromes.”
The province was able to identify the specific lot through its electronic health record system.
The batch was also distributed in Quebec and other parts of the country, and the Canadian Public Health Agency was notified.
There have been no reports so far of similar reactions outside of New Brunswick.
Quash said the batch was not removed by Health Canada or other provinces.
New Brunswick received 420,000 doses of the flu vaccine this year – a 26% increase from 2019.
Public Health says that anyone who has neurological symptoms should seek advice from their doctor and inform them if they have received the flu vaccine in the past 10 days.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Canada said in a statement to Radio-Canada late on Sunday that it became aware of some undesirable side effects in a vaccine batch on Friday.
The company hopes to contact public health officials for more information. Meanwhile, he informed that he is doing internal research and that he will share the results with Public Health.