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Potency of kids' vaccines in doubt

The Hernando County Health Department has discovered that some vaccinations were stored below the recommended temperature.

JENNIFER LIBERTO
Published September 19, 2003

Children who received vaccinations from the Hernando County Health Department since December 2001 may need to get revaccinated, an official said Thursday.

An estimated 1,500 children who received certain vaccinations from the Health Department may not be fully inoculated against diseases because the vaccinations were stored at a temperature several degrees too cold.

"We don't know the effect, but we can't guarantee the potency," said Kelli Maw, executive medical director. "They could be fine, but we don't know that."

During a routine inspection, state Health Department employees noted that some vaccinations were being stored at a temperature at least four degrees colder than the manufacturer's recommendation of 36 degrees Fahrenheit, Maw said.

The vaccines in question were given between Dec. 11, 2001, and Sept. 3.

Some children may need to be revaccinated, and others will not be able to be reinoculated if their last vaccination was very recent, Maw said.

The department has started contacting families of children who received the questionable vaccinations and will determine whether a child should be revaccinated on a case-by-case basis.

Parents of children who received the vaccines should contact the Health Department's hotline at (352) 540-6880, which is answered by nurses from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

- Jennifer Liberto can be reached at 848-1434 or liberto@sptimes.com

Shots of uncertainty

The questionable inoculations were for meningitis, polio, pneumonia, hepatitis B and the DPT vaccine, which includes diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. For information, call the Health Department at (352) 540-6880.

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