Inquiry into vaccination concerns

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vaccineSCOTLAND - Patients at an Aberdeen GP practice may have been exposed to the risk of illness by vaccines possibly being stored at wrong temperatures.

Health chiefs are offering 813 patients at the Northfield Health Centre booster vaccines in case they are not properly protected from infection.

NHS Grampian apologised for the anxiety that would be caused to families as children may not be fully protected.

A helpline on 08000 282 836 is available from 0800 GMT to 2200 GMT.

The problem was discovered in September when a health visitor took a vaccine out of a box and thought it was not the normal temperature.

Vaccines, such as MMR, given to children as protection against disease and adults seeking protection from hepatitis, meningitis and pneumonia were affected.

The concern surrounds vaccines given between October 2004 and October this year.

Records showed that 404 children and 409 adults are involved.

NHS Grampian said patients would not have been harmed in any way as a result of the possible error but they may not have been given sufficient protection from disease or infection.

'Some concern'

NHS Grampian public health consultant Dr Helen Howie said: "I would like to apologise for the anxieties this is going to cause to the families, and the inconvenience of having to come back.

"It came to light that vaccines had been stored outwith the recommended range and this gave us some concern.

"I would like to emphasise that the vaccines are not likely to have caused any harm. We anticipate children would be protected but not as well as we would like."

An inquiry has been launched and the fridge involved has been removed.

Fridges examined

All other pharmaceutical fridges in Grampian practices are also being examined.

Appointments for patients are now being organised.

Microbiologist Prof Hugh Pennington said vaccines had to be stored at the right temperature to ensure their effectiveness.

He said: "If this is not done it means its shelf life on the bottle is wrong and the vaccine won't be as good. It won't necessarily mean it is useless, but there is no way of telling.

"The easiest thing to do is to give the patients who have received the dud vaccine another shot."

Have you been affected by the error? Contact the BBC Scotland news website at newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk with your views.

source - BBC UK