I hate this time of year. The media is bombarding us with stories of “the worst flu season ever” and “pandemics on their way” and every health professional is encouraging everyone to get the flu vaccine.
I wholeheartedly agree with vaccination. My 3 children have all been vaccinated according to the schedule, but we chose not to give them flu vaccine under the advice of a paediatrician as they have none of the risk factors for bad outcomes. Then 3 years ago my husband was undergoing chemotherapy and the oncologist advised that we all be vaccinated against the flu.
My son was 18 months old and due for his Varicella vaccine so I took him off to the immunisation clinic and had this done and they also gave him the flu vaccine as WA was giving it for free to children that year. He was fine afterwards, came home, had his lunch and a nap then we went out again and picked the older children up from school and went to a birthday party. During the party my son became quiet, I picked him up and realised he had developed a high fever. As soon as I put him in the car he had a seizure. I raced to the local medical centre but they said we’d have to join the queue! We went to the pharmacy, bought paracetamol and hoped that would bring his temperature down. When we got home he had another seizure that seemed endless but was only about 10 minutes. We went by ambulance to hospital where they told us it was “Just a febrile convulsion” and that there was no way the vaccine caused it. We were sent home.
3 weeks later it came out the Fluvax had caused a large number of children to have febrile convulsions and that at least one child had severe brain damage from it. We were contacted to give permission for our sons medical records to be analysed but there was no follow up to see if he was OK. Since then they have banned the use of Fluvax in children under 5.
A month later we were woken early in the morning by strange sounds from our sons room. He was having another seizure. It went for over an hour, we went to another hospital by ambulance with lights and sirens going with the seizure continuing and our son struggling to breathe. It was the most frightening thing I have ever experienced. The hospital staff were all standing at the door waiting for him like you see on TV. 3 days later we were discharged with referrals for more testing as it seemed it might be a bit more than just febrile convulsions.
3 years down the track tests show our son is still having seizure activity when he sleeps. We have to medicate him any time he has a fever and I have to carry emergency medication in case he has a seizure. Yet I have been informed that there is no evidence that Fluvax caused any lasting harm to any child!
So please, this year, if you decide to vaccinate your child against the flu, please double check with the staff that they are not using Fluvax. Last year several children were hospitalised after being accidentally vaccinated with Fluvax instead of the other brands of Influenza Vaccine. It is heartbreaking that our son has a serious medical issue that we believe was caused by something we did, thinking it was the right thing to do, it is just as heartbreaking that it is continuing to happen to other families.
Posted by beagle, 22nd April 2013