The San Francisco Department of Public Health estimates that about 9,000 doses of a pediatric H1N1 vaccine recalled by the federal government have been distributed within the city, but health officials said today that parents should not be concerned.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today that it is recalling about 800,000 doses of vaccines meant for children younger than 3. The vaccines’ potency levels decreased after they were shipped to providers, according to the CDC.
The California Department of Public Health is still gathering information on which agencies received the affected vaccines. However, spokesman Ken August said the recall affects 47,800 doses sent to 159 providers throughout California.
“Fortunately this does not involve the safety of the vaccine,” he said.
Federal guidelines recommend that children younger than 10 receive two doses of H1N1 vaccine. August said that two vaccines together are potent enough to ensure children are protected, even if one was part of the recalled batch.
“If a child received this affected vaccine as their first dose, they will still need to get a second dose,” he said. “If it was their second dose, there’s no need to get an additional dose.”
Santa Clara County health officials said today that the county received 900 of the recalled doses.
Some of those doses were administered at the county fairgrounds last Friday and on Dec. 6, and at the California Children’s Services site on Empey Way.
Private providers who received the recalled doses are being contacted and asked to return the vaccines to the manufacturer, county officials said.
Public health officials in Alameda and Contra Costa counties said today that they are not impacted by the recall.
Susan Fernyak, San Francisco’s director of communicable disease control and prevention, said affected vaccines were distributed to both private practitioners and the city health department.
The antigen levels in these vaccines are only slightly lower than the required levels, she said.
“Most likely, children who have received these vaccines are going to have an adequate immune response,” she said.
It’s impossible to know exactly how many recalled doses have been administered, Fernyak said. Because demand for H1N1 vaccines remains high, she said it’s likely that most of the doses have been used.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health had 500 of the recalled vaccines set aside for use at an upcoming public vaccination clinic on Dec. 22. Fernyak said the city will obtain replacement vaccines before the clinic happens.
At the public clinic, the city’s largest to date, the health department will distribute 16,000 H1N1 vaccines to at-risk individuals.
The clinic will be held Dec. 22 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium at 99 Grove St.
Only about 15 to 25 percent of private providers in San Francisco have ordered H1N1 vaccines so far, Fernyak said. “We know there are a lot of San Francisco residents at risk whose providers will probably never have the vaccine.”
While the clinic is open to the public, Fernyak said the event is specifically targeting high-risk residents.
These priority groups include pregnant women, children and young adults between 6 months and 24 years old, anyone who lives with or cares for infants younger than 6 months old, health care and emergency workers, and adults with certain medical conditions. Children younger than 10 who received their first dose of H1N1 vaccine before Dec. 1 should also attend.
The clinic is free and will be set up to process attendees quickly and efficiently, Fernyak said. People will be routed to specific lines based on the language they speak, what type of vaccine they need and whether they have any special needs.
The layout should ensure “a straight shot through Bill Graham,” Fernyak said, and people should not come early to line up before the clinic opens. Organizers estimate attendees should be in and out within an hour.
Fernyak said shipments of H1N1 vaccine have been arriving more frequently in the past few weeks. If the production rates remain at current levels, she estimated that everyone in San Francisco who would like a vaccine should be able to get one within the next month.