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Toddler flu vaccine death to be investigated

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Lindy Kerin
ABC Australia
Monday, April 26th, 2010

TONY EASTLEY: The Queensland Coroner plans to investigate the death of a two year-old-girl who died earlier this month, after receiving the flu vaccine.

On Friday the Australia’s chief medical officer Professor Jim Bishop issued a nationwide ban on flu shots for children under five. His announcement came came after more than 20 children suffered severe side effects from the vaccine in Western Australia.

Lindy Kerin reports.

LINDY KERIN: Over the last month 23 children in Western Australia have been taken to hospital suffering fits, fevers and vomiting. They’d all had the influenza vaccine.

Now it’s emerged that a two year-old-girl died in Queensland, the day after she and her twin sister had the flu shot. The country’s chief medical officer Jim Bishop says investigations will continue to find out whether the vaccine was to blame.

Professor Bishop says at this stage there have been no similar adverse reactions reported in the other states. But he says health authorities around the country have been put on alert.

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JIM BISHOP: We’re looking through all the records, the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) have not been notified with any particular signal from any other state. But we’ve, the chief health officers and myself are going back through all the cases and seeing if we can see increased incidence.

LINDY KERIN: The ban on flu shots for children under five will remain in place while investigations continue. Professor Bishop says he expects the test results on the vaccine later in the week.

JIM BISHOP: We’ve got batches of all the vaccine that goes out across the country, so we can identify the batches that have gone to Western Australia and the TGA will be undertaking their tests this week.

LINDY KERIN: The Australian Medical Association says an audit of New South Wales emergency department figures has shown no increase in presentations for children under five. But the national president is Dr Andrew Pesce says doctors around the country are closely monitoring the number of adverse reactions.

ANDREW PESCE: There will be some reactions to flu vaccine. We know that that is a statistical fact. The question is; are they at a level which in general protects the public and can give them the confidence that by far and away the public including children are better off vaccinated than not vaccinated? Because the flu itself can kill people.

And each year in Australia 2,500 people do die from complications of flu. And in Western Australia the roll out of the seasonal flu vaccination for young children was encouraged after a sequence of about four or five young children dying of complications of the flu a few years ago.

LINDY KERIN: Dr Pesce is concerned the latest developments may lead to an overall drop in immunisation rates. He says older people, pregnant women and older people over five should continue getting the flu vaccine.

TONY EASTLEY: Lindy Kerin.

This article was posted: Monday, April 26, 2010 at 3:32 am





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