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FDA, CDC Quash Flu Vaccine Contamination Rumor

Kate Traynor

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday decried as false a rumor that the agency has recalled a contaminated batch of influenza vaccine for the 2003–2004 flu season.

"No contamination of any flu vaccine has been identified anywhere in the U.S. and the FDA has not recalled any lot of flu vaccine," declares a statement jointly released by FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to FDA, the rumor originated after two people who received the same lot of influenza vaccine at a single medical center had apparent allergic reactions to the product. FDA noted that one of the vaccinees was later determined to have "underlying lung disease and was subsequently diagnosed with pneumonia."

No other recipients of the same lot at that institution or elsewhere suffered a similar adverse event after receiving the vaccine, according to the agency.

The joint announcement emphasizes that there has been no increase beyond the expected number and type of adverse events among influenza vaccine recipients this season. According to FDA, "a few" serious allergic reactions occur each year among vaccinees, with symptoms occurring immediately or within a few hours. Reactions are believed to be caused by hypersensitivity to egg protein or other vaccine components.

Milder adverse events associated with influenza vaccination include injection-site inflammation, fever, malaise, and muscle aches.