The Hong Kong Department of Health stopped distributing a batch of seasonal flu vaccines on Tuesday, after Taiwan authorities discovered that some of the lot was contaminated with white particles.
About 175,000 doses of the affected lot were imported into the city, and approximately 75,000 have already been administered. The Health Department said that the wholesaler, Sanofi-Aventis Hong Kong Limited, had not received any local reports of similar white particles, and that the suspension was only a "precautionary measure".
"The [Department of Health] He has immediately suspended the use of the affected vaccines. DH services, including Health Centers for Older Adults, will suspend the seasonal influenza vaccination service until the provider sends a new batch of [vaccines]"A spokesman said." Members of the public are advised to consult with health professionals if they feel unwell after receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine. "
According to Sanofi-Aventis, the affected doses were distributed to the health department, the Hospital Authority and the health centers.
& # 39; No evidence & # 39;
Sanofi-Aventis said it had not received any reports, either in Hong Kong or in the world, about the safety of the vaccines committed. He told the Health Department that "until now there is no evidence that the quality, safety or efficacy of the [vaccines] supplied to Hong Kong have been affected, or a safety risk is imposed on those who receive the vaccines. "
The Health Department has asked Sanofi-Aventis to submit a full research report and replace the affected vaccines with a new batch.
The Secretary of Food and Health, Sophia Chan, said on Wednesday that the government was still trying to confirm the details.
"The Department of Health and the Hospital Authority are doing everything possible to verify the amount of used and unused vaccines, and to track the places where they were distributed," said Chan.
He added that the new batch of Sanofi-Aventis vaccines was expected to arrive within a week. The Health Department will instruct medical personnel to visually review the vaccine to detect problems prior to injection, but will not perform random sampling tests.
Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki criticized the government for its slow response and said the situation in Taiwan had been developing since last month. He added that the government should conduct laboratory tests on vaccines and not just return them to the wholesaler.
Kwok, along with DAB legislator Ann Chiang, suggested that the Health Department should establish a hotline or website to answer questions from the public.
HKFP contacted a spokesperson for Sanofi-Aventis Hong Kong for comments.