Patients of Nova Scotia physician William Vitale are being notified that some may need to be vaccinated again after the doctor mixed incompatible vaccines in one syringe and injected them in one shot.
Vitale has had his licence suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia for improperly administering vaccines.
The Capital District Health Authority says people who were vaccinated by Vitale from 1992 to 1994 and from 2003 to present and who were under age 24 months at the time may need to be re-immunized.
On Friday, health officials said Vitale was told to stop the practice by the health authority in 2006. But the authority’s medical officer of health said she can’t explain how that misconduct was handled.
"I can't speak to what happened in 2006. Why he wasn't followed up," Dr. Robin Taylor said.
And the registrar at the college said he doesn’t know why the professional body wasn’t notified at the time. Gus Grant, the registrar, said the college first learned of Vitale’s conduct on Dec. 11.
Health officials are urging Vitale's patients to get re-vaccinated properly, but say it is not an emergency. Taylor is recommending patients have their first re-vaccination appointment by the end of February.
"Immunizations work to protect us against diseases such as measles, mumps, tetanus and whooping cough and are the best way to stay healthy for years to come," Taylor said.
Re-immunization appointments required
It may take up to six months for some re-immunizations to be effective.
Patients or parents of patients vaccinated by Vitale during the affected periods should contact their family physician or call 811 for health information.
For those in the Halifax area without a family doctor, a vaccination clinic for former patients of Vitale will start Jan. 8. Appointments are required and can be arranged by calling (902) 481-5813.
Capital Health says patients should not go to emergency rooms or walk-in clinics, because they are not designed to perform routine immunizations.
"Doctors are well-informed on the right way to deliver vaccines, so this is a rare occurrence," said Dr. Frank Atherton, deputy chief public health officer for the provincial Health and Wellness Department.
"Most Nova Scotians are properly immunized. However, it is important that affected patients of this doctor take action to ensure that they are protected against these preventable diseases."