Meningitis jab recall Q&A

Behind the Headlines

Thursday February 26 2009

The vaccine has been withdrawn as a precaution

A “toxic vaccine" is a threat to babies, The Independent’s front page reported. It said that health officials had withdrawn more than 20,000 doses of the meningitis C vaccine as some may have been contaminated with the dangerous blood-poisoning bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus. The doses had been sent out "about a week ago" to GP clinics around the country.

Why are the vaccine doses being recalled?

Sterility tests carried out by the pharmaceutical company that makes the vaccine Menjugate found that two batches had been contaminated with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Although these two batches had not been distributed to the UK, the company decided to recall other batches that had been sent to the UK as a precaution. It says there is no evidence at present that the batches distributed in the UK are affected.

If there is no problem why have these batches of vaccine been withdrawn?

The company says that this is an entirely precautionary measure and there is no reason to believe the UK batches are a risk. They have been withdrawn to “ensure that there are no grounds for anyone to be concerned”. It says the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has no reports of adverse reactions associated with these batches.

Are UK children at risk?

The company says, “there is no reason for UK children to be at any risk from this product”, and that all vaccine sent to the UK had passed the required tests.

What action should be taken if a child has recently had this vaccine?

Other meningitis vaccines and other batches of Menjugate are not affected by the recall. If a parent has any concerns about the vaccine administered to their child they should discuss this with their doctor.


Edited by NHS Choices

Links to the headlines

Vaccine pulled over bacteria fear. BBC online, February 26 2009

Baby vaccine withdrawn over contamination fears. The Daily Telegraph, February 26 2009

Questions over vaccine safety. The Independent, February 26 2009.

20,000 meningitis baby vaccines recalled after poison infection. Daily Mirror, February 26 2009

Meningitis vaccine for babies recalled over contamination fears. The Times, February 26 2009

Links to the science

MHRA: Menjugate Kit

Further reading


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