Concern over flu vaccine blamed for low uptake of flu jab

Stock image.
Stock image.

A BAD batch of the flu vaccine which triggered a spate of bad reactions in children in 2010 and left 11-month-old Perth girl Saba Button severely disabled is being blamed for a low uptake of the jab in WA.

New research investigating the devastating impact of the 2017 flu season by PAEDS-FluCAN found that despite ongoing attempts to improve coverage, parents remained concerned about the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine.

Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at Telethon Kids Institute study co-author Dr Chris Blyth said after being hit with one of the worst flu seasons on record, with thousands of children hospitalised with the virus last year, Australian parents still needed convincing of the serious consequences of the flu.

“Less than one in four children aged six months to four years have received an influenza vaccine so far in 2018,” he said.

“Influenza is a highly contagious disease that can lead to life-threatening complications such as pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues, and multi-organ failure.

“It is the most common vaccine-preventable cause of hospitalisation and infection-related death, more common than whooping cough and meningococcal disease, yet our research has shown parents are under-estimating the urgency to protect their children against the flu.”

Published today in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the results from the PAEDS-FLuCAN collaboration led to all Australian states and territories providing a free flu vaccine for children under five years in 2018.

“We need to help parents understand that the younger you are, the higher the risk of being hospitalised with the flu,” he said.

“This is because the first exposure to the virus is always the most severe, striking when the immune system is still developing.

“Statistics from last year show that the highest number of cases occurred in late August, so it is not too late to protect your child from a potentially deadly case of the flu.”

For more information about the flu vaccine visit infectiousdiseases.telethonkids.org.au