Vaccine mix-ups

 

Vaccines are made in different strengths for children and adults. But sometimes, children get the adult's strength, and adults get the children's strength by mistake. For example, two children less than the age of 7 received Adacel (Tdap), an adolescent/adult-strength vaccine to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).

In another case, a 13-year-old girl received Daptacel (DTaP), a diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine meant for children less than 7. A 22-year-old woman also received Boostrix (Tdap), another vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, which is meant for patients between 10 and 18 years of age. Similar names and abbreviations used for vaccines caused the confusion. Many doctor's offices and clinics need to carry the vaccines for both children and adolescents/adults. So, safety measures must be put in place to prevent mix-ups.

Here's what you can do:
Consumers can help by being part of the double-checking process. For example, ask your doctor or nurse for a printed sheet that explains in detail the purpose of each vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) require doctors to give patients these printed sheets, called a Vaccine Information Statement, before each vaccination. You can also find these documents on the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/Pubs/vis/default.htm). These sheets include age groups that should receive the vaccines, so you can check that the right strength has been chosen for you or your child. Some doctors also ask you to sign a form to show you accept the vaccine for your-self or your child. This form usually lists all the vaccines given to you or your child. Most important, before accepting the vaccine, ask the nurse or doctor to confirm that the vial contains the correct vaccine as well as the correct (adult or child) dose.

Created on March 1, 2009

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