Influenza vaccines currently registered for use in young children in Australia are safe and well tolerated by children aged under 10 years but regular monitoring is needed, according to research in the Medical Journal of Australia.
A team of researchers, led by paediatrician Dr Nicholas Wood from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, surveyed the parents and carers of children who received flu vaccinations at six tertiary paediatric hospitals and selected primary health care providers between March and July 2013.
They looked at 893 eligible children aged 6 months to under 10 years.
“These results … can reassure parents and health care providers that influenza vaccination is safe and well tolerated”, the authors say.
In an accompanying editorial, Professor Heath Kelly, head of the epidemiology unit at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, wrote that safety had always been assumed “from the absence of prior reported adverse events”.
However, the experience of 2010, when vaccines manufactured by bioCSL were shown to cause fever at five to 10 times the previously accepted risk levels and febrile convulsions at 200 times higher levels, had changed things.
“The assumption that past safety predicts present safety might not be valid,” he wrote.
“Monitoring of both safety and effectiveness is needed to assess existing vaccines and vaccines that may be introduced in the near future, such as live attenuated influenza vaccines for children.”
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