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January 22, 2011

Reports of young children having seizures after receiving the flu vaccine have prompted government agencies to investigate.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have detected an increase of febrile seizures in children younger than two years old following influenza vaccination with a vaccine called Fluzone. Data in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a national vaccine safety surveillance program jointly sponsored by the FDA and CDC, alerted the agencies to the potential problem.

A fever can trigger convulsions called febrile seizures in children. Symptoms of a febrile seizure may be mild or severe. Although these seizures are fairly common with about 4% of young children suffering at least one febrile seizure in their lifetime, they can be as dangerous as any seizure. Children may fall and hurt themselves, hit their head, bite their tongue or suffer lack of oxygen if their tongue obstructs the airway for example.

All children who experience a febrile seizure need immediate medical attention at the nearest hospital. The government’s Medline Plus recommends that caregivers call 911 if a child’s seizure lasts more than a few minutes or should drive the child to the emergency room if the seizure ends quickly.

There have been 36 confirmed reports of febrile seizures in children six months to two years in age within one day of vaccination with Fluzone, reports the Associated Press. In ten cases, the children required hospitalization. All 36 children recovered.

Sanofi Pasteur Inc. manufactures the Fluzone vaccine (trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine or TIV). It is the only influenza vaccine recommended for children 6-23 months old this 2010-2011 flu season.

“Further investigations are under way to assess whether there could be an association between influenza vaccination and febrile seizures, or if other factors could be involved,” the FDA said in a release.

The CDC has not changed its recommendation for influenza vaccination, recommending that all persons ages 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine each year.

“The risk of severe influenza illness is higher among young children, especially children under 2 years of age,” the FDA said. “Approximately 9 out of 10,000 children 6-23 months of age require hospitalization each season for reasons related to influenza. Flu vaccine is the best way to protect against becoming ill with the flu.”

Find out more about influenza at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Flu Website.

7 Comments

  1. Gravatar for deborah  minns

    your destroying the natural immune system every time you try and fix a problem with a drug

  2. Gravatar for Mark Myers

    Can't help but notice:

    Winters I get a flu shot = healthy!

    Winters I neglect = sick a time or two.

    No, you do not compromise your immune system when you get a flu shot. More like a test run with a relatively safe trigger that keeps you well prepared for viral attack that is sure to come.

  3. Gravatar for Rachael

    Fluzone made by Sanofi Pasteur is the flu vaccine in question, but it was Fluvax made by CSL that was in question for the higher than normal rates of febrile convulsions in children in Australia.

    Two other flu vaccines for children were used in Australia, Influvac, made by Solvay Biologicals, and Vaxigrip, made by Sanofi Pasteur, but too few doses of them have been administered to accurately determine if they were linked to similar rates of fever and convulsion.

    http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/C8D6BEB67768E80ACA257735002424BF/$File/dept%20010610.pdf

  4. Gravatar for abcole

    Vaccines are small doses of the real thing, but in inactivated form so you don't get the full disease.

    Always, the complications from the vaccines are less frequent than would happen afetr the genuine infection.

    As the article points out, 4% kids get this problem already, without long term complications, after infections. Frighteneing if it happens to your kid, but harmless at the end of the day, and the risk is so tiny that it's not worth skipping vaccinations for IMO.

  5. Gravatar for Rachael

    "Last winter the likelihood that a child without risk factors would die from swine flu was less than one in a million.2 When such a high proportion of children develop moderate to severe febrile reactions to the influenza vaccine, more harm than good seems likely from vaccinating them."

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/340/jun09_3/c2994

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