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ANOKA, Minn. -- The RiverWay Clinic in Elk River
announced on March 3, 2004 that it is contacting approximately 1,200 patients who
received immunizations with varicella (chickenpox) vaccine at the clinic
between December 1998 and December 2003 to ensure that they are adequately protected
from the chickenpox.
An audit of vaccine freezers at the clinic in January found a temperature
variance in one freezer containing varicella (chickenpox) vaccine that may
have resulted in the loss of effectiveness of the vaccine stored inside.
RiverWay Clinics has conducted a review of vaccine storage procedures at
its three clinic locations and found no additional problems.
"We have no indication that any doses of varicella vaccine from the
freezer at the Elk River Clinic has failed," said Charles Lais, MD, RiverWay
Clinics' medical director. "However, we are concerned that we cannot determine
if patients who received vaccine stored in the affected freezer have immunity
to chickenpox. That is why we have mailed letters to all patients who received
vaccine from this freezer to give them information about the recall and
explain the steps we are taking to protect them from chickenpox. We're also
making a public statement to enlist the help of the media in reaching any
former patients who may have moved to new addresses that we do not have on
RiverWay Clinics are asking patients or guardians of patients who received
the chickenpox vaccine at the RiverWay Elk River Clinic from December 1998 to December 2003 to call:
* 763-712-6400 for an appointment at the RiverWay Clinics-Elk River site
* 763-712-6500 for an appointment at the RiverWay Clinics-Andover site
* 763-712-6100 for an appointment at the RiverWay Clinics-Anoka site
* 952-967-6990 for an appointment at the HealthPartners Coon Rapids
Patients should say that they need to make an appointment for the Elk
River RiverWay Clinic chickenpox vaccine recall. Patients may schedule an
appointment for anytime during regular clinic hours, evenings or weekends.
The clinic will offer patients the choice of being revaccinated or taking
a blood test to determine if they have immunity to the chickenpox. If the test
shows no immunity, they can then choose to be re-vaccinated. Other than the
possibility of some minor discomfort in an arm or leg, there are no medical
concerns related to receiving an additional vaccination. These services will
be available free of charge at any RiverWay Clinic.
RiverWay Clinics developed the following recommendations to help guide
patients or their guardians in making a decision between revaccination or a
blood test, however, they may choose either option.
For children ages 1 to 5, physicians recommend revaccination. This avoids
putting small children through the discomfort of a blood test and possibly
having to come in again for an injection if results show no immunity to
chickenpox. Other than the possibility of some minor discomfort in an arm or
leg, there are no medical concerns related to receiving an additional
For children ages 6 to 12, physicians recommend a blood test. Studies have
shown that a significant number of children in this age group are already
immune to chickenpox even though they have no history of the disease or
For children ages 13 and over physicians recommend a blood test. Research
has shown that many, if not most people in this age group are already immune
to chickenpox even though they have no history of the disease or vaccination.
For this age group, two vaccinations are also required to achieve adequate
immunization. Having a blood test may reduce additional trips to the clinic
and needle sticks.
"We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this vaccine recall has
caused our patients," said Lais. "We have our patients health and welfare
in mind and want to make absolutely sure that our patients are protected from
the varicella virus."
Source: RiverWay Clinics