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New Zealand Warns Against Flu Vaccines After Reports of Children Convulsing

Doctors have been warned not to use popular flu vaccine Fluvax on preschoolers after reports of children convulsing.

The Health Ministry said it had received reports of vaccinated children in Australia and New Zealand, aged under five, suffering febrile convulsions after the vaccine.

Child and youth health chief advisor Pat Tuohy said the welfare of children was the ministry's top priority.

"There isn't a lot of information at this stage, but as a sensible precaution we recommend that providers avoid giving Fluvax to children under five years old until there have been further investigations," said Dr Tuohy.

New Zealand doctors used Fluvax in March but supplies were likely to be very low as stock shifted to a different supplier after Easter in order to meet demand.

New Zealand has used 265,000 doses of Fluvax (CSL) this year, 273,800 doses of Influvac (Solvay), and 317,660 doses of Vaxigrip (Sanofi). 

"About 3-4 per cent of children will have a short convulsion if they get a high fever, no matter what the cause. Febrile convulsions are frightening for parents and may result in a short admission to hospital but they do not cause long term harm."

Dr Tuohy said it was important for people to keep an eye out for symptoms in the 24 hours after they, or their child, were vaccinated.

"In the event of fever, give an appropriate dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen and keep the child cool - perhaps by reducing the number of layers of clothing and sponging with a damp cloth."

If it's a high fever, or in rare cases if there are convulsions within 24 hours of a vaccination, people were asked to phone Healthline, or their GP and seek medical advice and assistance, said Dr Tuohy.

The Health Ministry said it encouraged all parents, consumers and healthcare professionals to report all suspected adverse reactions to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring.

In Western Australia, health authorities have suspended the free seasonal flu vaccination program for children under the 5 after 22 cases of high fevers requiring hospital admission.

Reference Sources:

April 26, 2010


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