28 Apr 2010

Caution over cause of serious flu jab reactions

7:59 pm on 28 April 2010

The Health Ministry says it's too early to say whether a brand of the seasonal flu vaccination is causing a higher number of serious reactions in young children.

Health officials in Australia are investigating the death of a two-year-old girl and more than 250 serious reactions in other children who had the vaccine Fluvax, manufactured by CSL .

Doctors in both countries have been told to stop giving Fluvax to preschoolers.

The ministry's chief child health adviser, Pat Tuohy, says Australian officials at a teleconference on Wednesday afternoon intimated they were still pulling information together.

In New Zealand so far, seven serious reactions have been reported, including five cases of febrile convulsions, and authorities say more reports are coming in as media publicity prompts parents to report reactions that occurred weeks ago.

Dr Tuohy says the ministry is taking a precautionary approach by suggesting doctors use alternative vaccines for young children.

An extra 47,000 doses of an alternative vaccine, Vaxigrip, arrived in the country on Tuesday from France. A similar amount is due on Thursday.