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New Zealand Kids React to flu Vaccine

Posted by ObeMike Wednesday, April 28, 2010

source: Sydney Morning Herald

New Zealand children have suffered convulsions from a flu vaccination following reports of similar reactions in Australia.

Last week, the NZ Ministry of Health advised doctors against using Fluvax on children.

On Wednesday, New Zealand's Health Ministry chief adviser for child and youth health Pat Tuohy told politicians five children had been reported to have suffered febrile convulsions in New Zealand since Friday.

Australia's chief medical officer had already suspended seasonal flu vaccinations for children under five following concerns stemming from a significant rise in the number of Australian children developing a fever after receiving the vaccine.

Two-year-old Ashley Epapara was found dead in her cot on April 9, the day after she and her twin sister were given the seasonal flu vaccination by private Brisbane GP. The case continues to be investigated.

As of 6pm (AEST) on Tuesday, Queensland Health had received 95 notifications of Queenslanders who'd had adverse reactions after receiving the seasonal flu vaccine.

Of those 95 cases, 41 related to children aged five and under.

And in Western Australia, flu shots have caused adverse reactions in 251 children under five.

The NZ health ministry was in regular contact with its Australian counterpart and a teleconference was scheduled to try and garner more information, he said.

On present advice there was no reason for children, especially those at high risk, to stop receiving other types of flu vaccines, Dr Tuohy said.

Children at a high risk were considered to be those who had an underlying chronic condition, such as asthma or diabetes, or those at risk for other reasons including those from low socio-economic families.

While there had been more reports of severe reactions, including the five febrile convulsions, there were also more children receiving the vaccine and people were more likely to report reactions due to the media attention.

Australia, New Zealand and Singapore were the only countries to use the vaccine so far this year. Most northern hemisphere countries begin flu vaccines in the lead up to winter.

Over 260,000 Fluvax doses were administered in March and the ministry said supplies were now likely to be low. More supplies of alternative vaccine Vaxigrip were expected from Europe this week.

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