Tuesday 12 December 2017

Almost 100 Irish school children given wrong vaccine

There are no concerns for the children's long-term safety
There are no concerns for the children's long-term safety

Michael McHigh

Ninety-five school pupils have received the wrong vaccine in Northern Ireland.

The whooping cough injection was not supposed to be administered to teenagers and can cause more local reactions like a high temperature and soreness in that age group, according to the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT).

There are no concerns for the children's long-term safety.

Year 11 pupils from Omagh Academy in Co Tyrone were given the pre-school vaccine last month instead of one suitable for adolescents.

The health authorities have apologised and said they are investigating.

Omagh Academy principal Keith Hill said: "The WHSCT notified the school on January 26 of a vaccination error which occurred on January 12 2015.

"The Western Trust advised that its public health department would write to parents immediately to make them aware of this incident, explain the implications and offer reassurance.

"An investigation by the Western Trust into the error is under way and the school is liaising with a representative of the Trust regarding the outcome."

A Trust statement said the vaccination was perfectly safe.

"Expert advice has been sought from the Public Health Agency (PHA) who have clarified that the vaccine that was given will still fully cover these pupils for all the diseases that the correct vaccine covered and they will not need to be re-vaccinated," it said.

"The vaccine may have caused more local reactions such as redness, swelling or soreness and a high temperature within the first two to three days when given to this age group.

"It will have no serious or long-lasting effects.

"The vaccine given to the pupils protects against pertussis (whooping cough), but the vaccine the pupils should have been administered does not.

"This will not do any harm at all.

"In this country we don't normally vaccinate teenagers against whooping cough because it isn't usually a serious disease in this age group.

"However, it is perfectly safe to give it to teenagers and some other countries do.

"The Trust takes this incident very seriously and has instigated an investigation into this error and will be taking forward all lessons learnt as a priority."

Ross Hussey, Ulster Unionist Northern Ireland Assembly member, said he was shocked.

He added: "I am appalled that in this day and age such a mistake could be made.

"Clearly I am relieved that there have been no lasting ill-effects to the pupils concerned but I am sure both they and their parents would have been concerned that there may have been something seriously wrong in view of the reactions some children suffered."

Belfast Telegraph

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