Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gardasil convulsions discounted, yet Australia halts flu vaccines on convulsion news

A two-year old girl died within 12 hours of receiving a new trivalent flu vaccine by CSL in Australia, 67 others suffered febrile convulsions, and at least 410 children in suffered from side effects like fever and vomiting.

So Australian health authorities have halted use of the vaccine for children under five while the issue is investigated. One possibility is that the children were more vulnerable to side effects from the vaccine, which includes swine flu as well as two strains of seasonal flu, because of having received the two-shot swine flu vaccine last year.

Although the relatively swift action seems commendable, some Australian parents are complaining that their kids had suffered reactions to last year's swine flu vaccine and their concerns were dismissed without follow-up.

That probably sounds familiar to parents of kids who have, they believe, suffered side effects from Gardasil, Merck's three-shot HPV vaccine series. True, there’s a difference between febrile convulsions, more common in young children, and the convulsions and seizures that are suffered by adolescents post-vaccination (see here and here), but post-Gardasil convulsions and seizures are habitually written off.

As always, it’s important for parents to assess the risks and benefits of vaccines versus the risks of disease for their own families. There’s never a perfect, one-size-fits-all scenario—but it’s crucial that health authorities follow up reports of adverse reactions instead of dismissing them out of hand as either unconnected, statistically insignificant, or just meritless  "anti-vaxxer" raving. And they need to follow up more than once when warranted, and investigate the cummulative effects of vaccines, too.

If you suffer an adverse reaction to any vaccine, report it immediately to VAERS and RateADrug.

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