Alberta Allows Use of Suspended Agriflu Influenza Vaccine

The Health Minister of Canada, Fred Horne, has made an announcement declaring that Alberta is going to use the Agriflu vaccine, as Health Canada has labeled the Novartis product to be safe. Health Canada has allowed the Agriflu and Fluad vaccine program to go through, as it was kept halted for some time, after completing a safety review this week.

The two seasonal flu vaccine products were considered suspicious last week by the manufacturer, and immediately suspended from being used in clinics by Health Canada while the federal agency investigated potential concerns arising from Europe. According to an official statement of Health Canada released on Thursday, “Health Canada looked at the results of its own testing, conducted a health risk assessment, and reviewed information from its European partners and data submitted by Novartis in making its decision. None of the information reviewed indicated a safety issue.”

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta, Dr. Martin Lavoie, stated that “we have been assured by federal officials that the suspension of the vaccine was the result of one batch of vaccine that contained protein flakes and that this batch never left the manufacturing plant.” He added that “now that the suspension has been lifted, we can make the Agriflu vaccine available through public health clinics, physicians and pharmacists.”

In a statement, PHAC and Health Canada said the agencies “will continue to work with the company to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines used here in Canada. Should a safety concern be identified, immediate and appropriate action will be taken.”

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