NEWS

Health Canada unsure when TB vaccine will be available

06/19/2012 09:54 EDT | Updated 08/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Health Canada says it is unsure when it will get more BCG vaccine for tuberculosis.

The vaccine was voluntarily recalled last week by the only Canadian maker, Sanofi Pasteur. The company said it had concerns about the vaccine's safety after problems at its Ontario plant.

Dr. Paul Gully, the senior medical adviser with Health Canada, told CBC News the department has contacted five international manufacturers of BCG and have already heard back from some.

"We have to work on the issue of ensuring ourselves, and this would be Health Canada, that the vaccine, if it's available, is safe, efficacious — in other words, it works, and [it’s] of high quality," Gully said in a telephone interview with CBC News.

The official said it seems that the department will be able to meet Canada’s short-term needs for the vaccine from international manufacturers.

The vaccine is commonly used in Nunavut, where the TB rate is about 75 times the national average, according to the Canadian Medical Association.

All newborns in the territory are offered the medicine to prevent against two serious forms of TB for the first two years of life. For the time being, no infants will receive the medication.

Gully said federal health officials are working to resolve the issue quickly.

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