Western Australia Minister for Health Kim Hames
Influenza Vaccine Program For Young Children Suspended
Victor P Taffa
Health Minister Kim Hames advised the State Government had, as a precautionary measure, temporarily suspended its free influenza vaccination program for children aged under five.
Dr. Hames said the suspension came after a significant spike in the number of children who had developed a high temperature after receiving the vaccine. Some children had gone on to have a febrile convulsion, which is a fit caused by a high fever.
Princess Margaret Hospital figures showed about 22 children had presented following a febrile convulsion that was possibly linked to the vaccine in the past month.
Dr. Hames, who is also a General Practitioner, said it was unclear whether the spike was related to the influenza vaccination, but the precautionary measure was the most responsible course of action.
“Fevers in the most instance are treatable. People should give paracetamol according to the instructions and tepid sponging to keep the temperature down. On rare occasions children can have a convulsion as the result of the high temperature and sometimes that can be prolonged, which can be a risk to the child.” Dr. Hames said.
Dr. Hames said parents should not initially take their children to hospital. If a child had a vaccine outside 12 hours, then they were not likely to experience a reaction.
He said parents should not take children under the age of five to be vaccinated against influenza until further notice.
“We have not yet established the cause of the spike in children who have developed fevers and we need to do a full assessment of the situation.” Dr. Hames said.