The head of infectious diseases at the IWK Health Centre in Nova Scotia is calling for a vaccine registry, saying it’s difficult to reach patients who were improperly vaccinated by William Vitale.
The now-suspended physician is accused of mixing multiple vaccines into a single syringe. He was first warned against the practice in 2006.
Scott Halperin said a registry would be useful in this situation. He said it's a large task to look up old patients who have received improper vaccines.
“It has many benefits, but in a case like this, one would be able to just go back into the registry, see who was immunized by that particular physician during those particular dates and then contact those people directly."
Halperin said without a patient vaccine registry, health officials have to resort to newspaper ads, radio interviews and sifting through old paperwork to alert families.
A spokesman from Nova Scotia's Department of Health said the province agrees there should be an electronic system to track illnesses and immunization.
Tony Kiritsis said the department is looking to implement such a system within the next two to three years.
'Hurry back to us'
Despite the break in protocol, some of Vitale's former patients are standing by the suspended physician.
They have posted a sign on his office door that says “We love [you]. Hurry back to us.”
Alexandra Matheson says she's been seeing Vitale for 20 years. Despite the doctor's suspension she says she'll continue to seek his advice.
“Well he has impacted my life in so many ways. I have lived in Nova Scotia but I have also lived in other parts of the country and out of the country and I love the fact that I can call him at any time. I know that he will always be there if I need him,” she said.
“There have been times I have consulted him over the phone, I've been in Los Angeles and I’ve called him and he's always been there for me and you don't really find that anymore… he’s a rare find.”
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.
A special clinic will open on Jan. 8, 9 and 10. Appointments are required and can be arranged by calling (902) 481-5813, but only if patients have no other doctor to go to.