‘Minimal’ impact’ expected from cessation of Agriflu shots

The decision to stop the use of the Agriflu influenza vaccine in Alberta should have minimal impact, said Alberta Health Service’s deputy chief medical officer of health on Monday.

The decision to stop the use of the Agriflu influenza vaccine in Alberta should have minimal impact, said Alberta Health Service’s deputy chief medical officer of health on Monday.

The province stopped the use of the Agriflu influenza vaccine following recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Dr. Martin Lavoie said it’s too early to say what the stoppage may do with those being immunized at flu clinics and at offices of pharmacists and physicians. The suspension occurred on the weekend.

“But what we hear right now is that it doesn’t have a significant impact,” he said.

Following last weekend’s immunizations, Lavoie said it appears that Alberta is on par when it comes to the number of doses being handed out for this time of year.

The suspension is a precautionary measure after Agriflu was voluntarily suspended in Europe. A white particulate matter was found floating in the vaccine.

Agriflu is one of three vaccines (along with Fluviral and FluMist nasal spray) offered through the province’s influenza immunization campaign.

“We have two injectable vaccines and this one (Agriflu) is 22 per cent of our vaccine inventory,” said Lavoie.

The province is waiting for the federal government to get details from the Italian government. It banned the sale and use of anti-influenza vaccines produced by Novartis, which is the same manufacturer that Canada uses.

“Hopefully we’ll hear within a day or two,” said Lavoie.

Immunization clinics will go ahead, added Lavoie.

Some clinics may have more of the Agriflu than others, he said.

“There may be some disruptions here and there, so it’s best to call ahead.”

He urged people to get vaccinated, particularly the elderly, children and those with medical conditions.

“It’s important to prevent the infection and its complications,” Lavoie said.

Influenza immunization is available, free of charge, to all Albertans six months of age and older.

For more information on a clinic, go to www.albertahealthservices.ca. You can also get advice by calling HEALTHLink Alberta at 1-866-408-5465.

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