A batch of GlaxoSmithKline’s Engerix B vaccine is being recalled in the UK as it was transported through temperatures so cold that they may have rendered the jab ineffective.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said it is advising healthcare professionals to contact patients vaccinated against hepatitis B with the GSK injection between March 9 and April 6. The MHRA’s chief executive Kent Woods said that “the safety of the vaccine is not in question, but it is suspected to be ineffective due to an error in transportation”.

The agency noted that the vaccine was exposed to sub-zero temperatures during transportation. People vaccinated between the above dates should check whether they received Engerix B from the batch (coded AHBVB591BB) by contacting the GP or travel clinic which administered it and possibly arrange to be revaccinated.

High prevalence hepatitis B regions include sub-Saharan Africa, most of Asia and the Pacific islands, noted the MHRA. It added that other areas where it is less prevalent include the Amazon, southern parts of eastern and central Europe, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.

Recalled Menjugate Kit vaccine was safe
The announcement comes a week after the agency reported that two batches of Novartis' meningitis C vaccine, Menjugate Kit, which were recalled as a precautionary measure in February, were indeed safe.

The vaccine was recalled because some samples from the batches that had been used in a transport experiment to America tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which can cause blood poisoning, noted the MHRA. None of these samples entered the supply chain.

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said that “it was right, on the evidence at the time and in the interests of public health, that the recall of the Menjugate Kit vaccine was made, as a precautionary measure”. She added that “the results of these tests are reassuring, and confirm that the vaccine used in the UK was not contaminated”.