Press Release

Department issues advice regarding Polio Vaccine

The Department of Health and Children has written today (20 October 2000) to health boards, advising them against use of Medeva Oral Polio Vaccine.

This follows advice from the Irish Medicines Board that this product is being recalled, in the light of the discovery in the United Kingdom that part of the Medeva Oral Polio Vaccine was manufactured using growth medium material which was of bovine origin and sourced in the UK. This was not in accordance with the 1999 European guidance, which recommended that oral medicinal products should not use bovine materials in the manufacturing process from countries in which there are known cases of BSE.

While it is unlikely that there are significant stocks of the Medeva oral polio vaccine in circulation, health boards, hospitals and general practitioners are advised not to use such vaccine and to return any stocks to the suppliers.

It is considered that the risk, if any, associated with the Medeva vaccine is exceedingly small. However, the advice is being issued as a precautionary measure and so as to ensure that the vaccines used in the Primary Childhood Immunisation programme continue to enjoy public confidence.

The oral polio vaccine currently in use is supplied by SmithKline Beecham, which has been confirmed to contain non-UK-sourced foetal calf serum. There is no problem in relation to this product and parents are strongly advised to continue to have their children immunised against polio, which is a very serious disease.