More than 1,000 Exxon Mobil employees received flu shots last week with a vaccine now being investigated by the FBI to determine its authenticity. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is testing samples of the vaccine. The flu shots were given to about 1,000 Exxon Mobil employees and 80 contractors during a Health Fair Oct. 19-20 at the company's Baytown complex of refinery and chemical plants.
Jeanne Miller, a spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil in Baytown, said a state-licensed independent physician's office was contracted to administer the shots. Miller would not identify the office. In the past, she said, a company medical team administered the flu shots to employees at that plant. She said the FBI notified Exxon Mobil at its corporate offices earlier this week that it was investigating the authenticity of the vaccine.
Miller did not know whether the investigation had been ongoing or had stemmed from the use of the vaccine at the Baytown complex. The FBI in Houston referred all comment to the U.S. Attorney's Office. In a statement released Thursday, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said a preliminary investigation does not show the vaccine to be harmful, but measures were being taken to ensure its safety.
"Those known to have received the fake flu vaccine have been notified and steps are being taken to ensure their well being," he stated. "We are also attempting to ascertain whether others might have received a fake vaccine."
If a fake flu vaccine was used, he said, those responsible for its use will be prosecuted for fraud. Miller said all 3,800 employees at the Baytown complex and contractors were notified Wednesday. "We have not received any reports of illness potentially related to the vaccine," she said. She said Exxon Mobil also recommended that employees given the flu shot should be tested for blood-borne pathogens, or germs.