The BCG vaccine may not be available until January 2008 due to “regulatory difficulties” with the Danish manufacturer of the vaccine, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed.
“This is a Europe-wide problem as the manufacturer in question is the only company which supplies the vaccine to the European Market. The HSE is in regular contact with the supplier and is doing all it can to ensure delivery of the vaccine at the earliest possible juncture. Unfortunately, it is not possible to stockpile the vaccine in advance as it has a very short shelf life,” said a spokesperson.
The BCG should be available again in January when new stocks are delivered. Dr Peter Finnegan, a public health doctor in HSE Dublin North East, said while the shortage is ongoing the vaccine may be still given to babies but not to children in schools. “If there is a problem at the manufacturing end there is little we can do,” he said.
“There has been a dramatic decline in TB over the past 40 years in this country, and the risk of contracting the condition remains low, so there is no need for any undue alarm or concern,” according to Dr Kevin Kelleher, HSE Assistant National Director for Health Protection.