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Hundreds fear exposure to hepatitis

Hundreds of residents who received flu shots at town-sponsored clinics fear that they may have been exposed to the hepatitis and AIDS viruses because a doctor failed to change syringes between patients.

More than 450 residents, most of them elderly, filled an auditorium Tuesday and grilled officials about the possible risk.

State health officials said the chance of exposure to any blood-borne virus was extremely remote, but recommended those who got the shots be inoculated against hepatitis B as a precaution. Those who received the flu shots are considered low risk for HIV, and there was no indication any of the patients had either virus.

Dr. Claude Light resigned as town medical director Monday after health officials received a complaint that he failed to change syringes for each patient while administering flu shots to 468 people at clinics earlier this month.

Light said he used fresh needles for every patient but didn't realize that the CDC requires that the syringe also be changed for each patient. He used one syringe for each vial of flu vaccine, which contains 10 to 12 doses.