Taiwan Flu Vaccines Inspected for Impurities

Influenza vaccination should be included in pre-travel immunization plans

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Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) reported 2 batches of influenza vaccine have been put on hold after several doses were found to contain impurities. 

Wang Po-yu (王博譽), a senior specialist at the TFDA, said the problematic vials, which came in 2 separate batches imported from France in October 2018, contained suspicious white and black suspended matter,’ according to reporting by Focus Taiwan.com     

The vaccine batches R3J711V, R3J71, R3J721V, and R3J72 are scheduled to be returned to the manufacturer, Wang said. 

The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-Hsiang also confirmed to Focus Taiwan ‘that none of the vaccines from the 2 batches have been distributed to local health centers.’ 

A total of 6 million flu vaccines have been bought from flu vaccine manufacturer Sanofi and Taiwan-based vaccine maker Adimmune Corporation during 2018.

The Tawain government's annual free flu vaccination program is available for people aged 50 and over, pregnant women, mothers with babies younger than six months, children between the ages of six months and preschool years, nursing home residents, patients with rare or acute diseases, health care workers, and people with high-risk chronic illnesses. 

Since the beginning of this year’s seasonal influenza vaccination campaign, as of November 18, a total of 3,910,000 doses of influenza vaccine have been administered. During the same period last year, a total of 3,750,000 doses of the vaccine were administered. 

This is the 2nd time flu vaccine products have been found to contain impurities. 

The initial report was made on October 26, 2018, the vaccine vial appeared to be a brown color, like tea. The normal color of this vaccine should be transparent and colorless.   

However since there were no other similar incidents with the company’s other vaccines, Sanofi Pasteur said it ‘was regarding this case as an isolated incident.’ 

In the USA, during the 2017 - 2018 flu season, a record-setting 183 children died from influenza. 

And, less than 60 percent of these fatalities had received the flu vaccine, reported the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Moreover, as of October 27, 2018, there have been 3 pediatric deaths reported in the USA for the 2018-2019 influenza season.     

Since it takes about 2 weeks for antibodies to develop that protect people against an influenza virus infection, it is best to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

The CDC recommends everyone over 6 months of age get vaccinated each year. 

In the USA, flu vaccinations can be scheduled at community pharmacies using this Vax-Before-Travel app.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector prices for general information.

Flu vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.