By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Published: 8:00AM BST 31 Jul 2010
vaccinated against seasonal flu if they are in designated ‘risk groups’
because they have chronic asthma
Doctors should stock alternative vaccines for under fives who are due to have
the seasonal flu vaccine this winter, a letter from the head of immunisation
at the Department of Health has said.
The action is being taken as rate of convulsions caused by high fever among
children in Australia given the jab was ten times higher than normal.
Up to one in 100 children given the jab, made in Australia by CSL and marketed
in the UK by Pfizer, suffered febrile convulsions in the following hours and
It is not known what is causing the problem and no other flu vaccines have
been linked to an increased risk of fits. Adults given the vaccine do not
appear to have been affected.
Children under five are only routinely vaccinated against seasonal flu if they
are in designated ‘risk groups’ because they have chronic asthma, have been
admitted to hospital with a respiratory infection previously or have other
long-term conditions which means they would be particularly badly affected
if they caught flu.
Seasonal flu vaccines contain three strains which have been identified by the
World Health Organisation as the most common in circulation that year. This
year the vaccines contain the pandemic strain H1N1.