Novartis Flu Shot Ban Stretches To Canada, Six European Countries

Melissa Stusinski

The ban on Novartis flu vaccines has spread to six European countries and also to Canada, where authorities have ordered the temporary ban on the import and use of some Novartis vaccines.

Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland have all limited the use of the company's flu vaccines Fluad and/or Aggripal after the company reported finding small particles in the vaccine to authorities in Italy, reports

Italian health officials have said that, while Novartis knew of the particles in July, they did not inform anyone until this month. A spokesman for the pharmaceutical company, Eric Althoff, declined to say how long they waited to inform authorities.

The British Columbia Center for Disease Control has also issued a notice to all of its provincial health authorities, telling them to stop using the flu vaccines, which are sold in Canada as Agriflu and Fluad, according to The Globe and Mail.

They have said that it is a precautionary measure, because of the small clumping material in some of the vaccines. British Columbia's Ministry of Health assured that those who have already been vaccinated to not need to worry, because there have been no safety concerns about the vaccine to date.

The caution regarding shots has increased since an outbreak of fungal meningitis in the United States was connected to tainted steroid injections. The injections tested positive for fungus and have so far killed 25 people and sickened hundreds.

In an email on Friday, Althoff stated that "once the deviation was seen, an investigation was started and the findings were shared with the Italian Ministry of Health."

While other flu vaccines are available in the seven countries who have temporarily banned some Novartis products, it will likely create a delivery bottleneck as the push for people to get flu shots continues.