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AHS reassures Edmontonians after vaccine scare at Norquest

Many Albertans say they’re scared about getting their flu shot after a breach in health protocols at the Norquest College flu clinic on Tuesday, despite reassurances from the province.

It appears blood from one patient somehow got into a multi-use vial of vaccine that was then administered to three other patients at the college’s flu clinic.

Alberta Health Services says none of the patients involved are in danger, but some Edmontonians are still worried.

“How can you trust the health care system [with] your life and your children’s life?” asked Nicole Go.

Officials with AHS are now trying to reassure people that it’s safe to get immunized.

“The event that happened was very rare,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. James Talbot on Thursday, noting he hasn’t heard of a similar incident happening in the last 40 years.

Now, he says AHS is looking into ways to ensure it never happens again.

“We’ll be looking at every aspect of the physical circumstances and the fact it was a multi-use vial. We’ll look at the training of the people involved and we’ll look at the processes that were used to make sure this doesn’t happen for another 40 years.”

Shot administered by pharmacy student

All four shots were given by a supervised pharmacy student. They are trained to administer vaccines in their third year of study.

“I’ve had my shot done by students for the past 3 or 4 years and I have total confidence,” said Greg Eberhard, a registrar for the Alberta College of Pharmacists.

Officials say it’s important to give those students practical experience, and the public shouldn’t worry about their capabilities.

“People need to understand this is an important part of their training as health care professionals – to be able to give needles like this and give them safely – so as long as they’re supervised.”

For anyone with lingering concerns about getting a shot, officials say you should make sure you’re dealing with a regulated professional, a fully licensed pharmacist, nurse or physician.

And if it is a student, make sure there’s a supervisor watching to catch any potential mistakes.

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Royce Christyn
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