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October 07, 2015

Officials: Nurse reuses syringe to administer flu shots for N.J. pharma company

Employees offered free blood tests to screen for infections

Dozens of employees at West Windsor, New Jersey-based Otsuka Pharmaceuticals have been advised to take blood tests after officials say a nurse contracted to administer the company's flu shots reused a syringe for multiple vaccinations.

The flu shots, given to 67 employees on Sept. 30, were coordinated by TotalWellness, which acknowledged that the nurse they contracted "failed to follow proper medical procedures and safeguards," according to NBC10.

After discovering what happened, TotalWellness released the following statement:

On September 30, 2015, TotalWellness was alerted that a nurse it had contracted to administer flu vaccinations to 67 employees for an employer group in New Jersey failed to follow proper medical procedures and safeguards to properly administer vaccinations to potentially all 67 participants.
TotalWellness, the employer group, and the New Jersey Department of Health are proactively working together to inform all participants and provide them the necessary resources and a plan to mitigate any potential medical concerns and exposure risks.
TotalWellness is dedicated to ensuring all participants receive any and all appropriate screenings, care and counseling until this matter is resolved.

An official with the New Jersey Department of Health confirmed to an Otsuka employee that while the needles were changed between vaccinations, the nurse reused the same syringe for multiple shots. The department said this lapse exposed to the employees to infected blood, though there were no immediate reports of disease transmission.

Officials indicated that the risk of developing an infection was low, but all of the employees were offered free blood tests through the CDC, NJDOH, and TotalWellness to screen for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. The employees were further advised to receive a second test in 4-6 months.

Employees at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals were further advised to retake the flu shot after the nurse administered a vaccine below the recommended dose.

The nurse responsible for administering the shots has not been identified but is reportedly licensed by the State Board of Nurses. No disciplinary action has been taken, however the incident remains under investigation.

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