Monday, 20 September 2010

Vaccine ‘Worse than the Flu’

PUBLIC health experts have called for an independent body to actively monitor drug safety after it emerged that young children were more likely to end up in hospital because of side-effects from a leading flu vaccine than they were from the illness itself.

The analysis contradicts government safety advice that the harm did not outweigh the risk and raises concerns about the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s assessment of the vaccine.

More than 1000 adverse responses in children under five were reported to the TGA by June this year, including nearly 100 febrile convulsions, a seizure that in a small number of cases has been associated with long-term adverse health outcomes.

The side effects were linked to one of the three seasonal flu vaccines, Fluvax and Fluvax junior, from drug company CSL, but the TGA maintained despite that ‘‘the overall risk-benefit balance of both products remains positive’’.

The Commonwealth chief medical officer, Professor Jim Bishop, claims the advice was intended to indicate the drug should not be withdrawn from the market, but said the government would reassess it in light of the research.

But research published yesterday in the journal Eurosurveillance showed Fluvax may have caused two to three hospital admissions due to seizure for every admission from flu it prevented.

The chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia, Michael Moore, said further examination of risks at arm’s length from the TGA was needed. The government should consider creating an independent centre.

We the people would like safe vaccines and no unnecessary ones.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, September 20th, 2010.]

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