In April of 2010, pandemic flu vaccine administration was suspended for children under 5 in Australia due to reports of serious adverse reactions in children. The vaccine involved was produced by an Australian company, CSL.
From the Department of Health and Ageing (Australian Government), April 30, 2010
A week long national evaluation of cases of fever with convulsions in young children following a seasonal flu vaccination has so far found no pattern of increased incidence of this side effect, other than higher numbers in WA.
While much has been done to understand this, we require additional time to complete our investigations. Given the ongoing and incomplete scientific and clinical case review, the moratorium on the use of seasonal influenza vaccine in children 5 years and less will continue.
Judging by this year’s North American experience during winter where pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza has been the predominant flu strain, especially for younger people under 65 years, we predict that swine flu will be the predominant flu in our winter this year. Free swine flu vaccine is available as a choice for parents and is available for all people 6 months and over.
As near as I can tell, this was the last official notice from the Australian government on this issue. Presumably, the ban on vaccinating children under 5 remains in place. Given that flu season is about to begin in Australia and that children typically experience the highest attack rates, this policy may have serious implications for the spread of pandemic flu in Australia. Has the Australian government found the cause of the apparent spike in adverse reactions in Western Australia? We don’t know. There is no mention of a problem with the vaccine for children at the CSL website.
Afaik, there is only one report that suggests why the vaccine apparently caused severe reactions in some children.
From The West Australian, May 2, 2010
Professor Petrovsky reportedly found that this year’s vaccine contained more of the residue than previous years because it consisted of several inactivated seasonal strains of influenza vius combined with the pandemic H1N1 sine flu strain and RNA extracted from the vaccine triggered “an enormous reaction” in human immune-system cells in vitro.
Prof Petrovsky’s claims were reportedly supported by Melbourne immunologist Professor Bryan Willams, who said he had been planning to test the same theory before he heard about Professor Petrovsky’s experiment.
Vaccine manufacturer CSL has not yet responded to the claims.
The claims of high levels of RNA in the vaccine can be easily verified or refuted. The fact that there has been no response from either the Australian government or CSL is disturbing. One wonders whether the close ties between CSL and the Australian government has caused this odd silence. If there is contamination in the CSL vaccine, the Australian government should say so and immediately order vaccine from another company. Protecting children should be a higher priority than protecting CSL.