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Kristen Daum, Published December 24 2009

Region received recalled vaccine

Minnesota and North Dakota health agencies received about 77,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine recalled this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The voluntary recall affects 4.7 million doses of the nasal mist vaccine distributed nationwide.

Health officials said there is no safety concern for the public, and individuals who received the recalled doses do not need to be revaccinated.

The recall is the second of its kind in as many weeks dealing with reduced potency in the vaccine discovered during routine testing this month.

Minnesota received 63,500 of the newly recalled doses that were shipped to 188 providers statewide, said Doug Schultz, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health.

Information wasn’t available Wednesday on which Minnesota providers received the recalled doses.

In North Dakota, about 13,500 of the recalled doses were shipped in mid-October to 187 providers – including an estimated 2,700 to Cass County providers such as Fargo Cass Public Health, said Keith LoMurray, the state Health Department’s immunization information system coordinator.

State health officials say they assume all recalled doses have already been administered by now, but as part of the recall, the CDC asks providers to return any unused doses.

To ensure vaccine quality, the manufacturers keep batches of their H1N1 vaccine and routinely test it over time.

The CDC said it was notified that in tests done in the past week, the potency level in 13 batches of the vaccine had fallen below the specified range.

Because the doses were likely administered soon after they were shipped nationally from October to the beginning of November, they were administered before their potency dropped, Schultz said.

“So, it would still provide the certain amount of protection that we would like,” Schultz said. “Once they’re in your body, they do their job in building up your immune system.”

Vaccines have the potential to deteriorate over time because of their biological make-up, LoMurray said, which is why manufacturers conduct routine tests.

“The antigen level can drop,” LoMurray said. “It does happen every once in a while.”

On Dec. 15, the CDC announced a similar voluntary recall of 800,000 H1N1 doses shipped nationwide. Of those, 10,100 doses were distributed to North Dakota and Minnesota health agencies.

The number of H1N1 doses in the two recalls represents about 6 percent of the 90.4 million total doses shipped nationwide, as of Monday.

For more information on the recalled vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/sprayrecall_qa.htm?s_cid=tw_flu84.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541