Thursday, July 15, 2010

Andrei Thermally damaged?

What's with this?
Wellington Regional Hospital has issued an alert that up to 16,000 patients may have received faulty tetanus shots.

Capital and Coast District Health Board said there had been a possible fault with a refrigerator in the emergency department at Wellington Regional Hospital.

CCDHB spokesman Andrew Simpson said some patients who visited the ED have received a tetanus injection that "may not have been effective as it was thermally damaged."
So far so good that bit I understand. Here's where it goes a bit off the rails
The hospital said it could not guarantee that the refrigerator had always been within the right temperature range and therefore up to 16,000 tetanus boosters may have been affected in the past 10 years.
Now the usual incubation period for tetanus is eight days although it can be longer a few months maybe at most. And indeed the story tells us there have been exactly two cases of Tetanus in the Wellington region during the decade of the possibly faulty refrigerator, the possibly thermally damaged vaccine being implicated in neither.

So why is this a story? A press release to announce A&E at Wellington hospital has a new fridge perhaps?

2 comment(s):

macdoctor said...

"Thermally damaged" is just jargon for "inactivated". All it means is that some people who think that they have been re-immunized against tetanus have not been. Their immunity may be deficient.

Some people who work in dirty areas (farmers, rubbish collectors, abatoir workers) might wish to get another booster.

Andrei said...

I really know all that MacD

The person who put this story out is a public relations Klutz - no?

(1) We haven't been storing our vaccines properly we only just noticed after 10 years!

(2) Luckily nobody has been hurt because the chances of you getting this disease is remote you are far more likely by many orders of magnitude to win the lottery (2 cases in ten years) than get contract it.

(3) but just to be safe side get a booster, under the assumption the new dose is not "thermally damaged".

Now I happen to believe that the Tetanus vaccine works and is responsible for it being a rare disease but I am cynical about vaccines in general and this little story goes to reinforce that.

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