GPs warned over flu vaccine risk

GPs have been warned of a possible increased risk of febrile convulsions in under-fives associated with the use of Pfizer influenza vaccines.

The Department of Health has sent out an alert to doctors over the Enzira and CSL Biotherapies generic influenza vaccine marketed by Pfizer Vaccines for the 2010/11 influenza season.

GPs are being advised to avoid offering these vaccines to children under five and ensure they have adequate stocks of alternative influenza vaccines to give to these children in the 2010/2011 flu vaccine programme.

The warning follows reports from Australia where there has been a higher than expected increase in febrile convulsions in children related to the use of Fluvax, which is manufactured by CSL. This is the same product that will be marketed in the UK by Pfizer as Enzira and generic influenza vaccine for the 2010/11 influenza vaccination season.

Evidence from Australia suggests a rate of febrile convulsions of about one per 100 for children who were given Fluvax. The DoH said: “This increased risk appears to be a product specific reaction and evidence from Australia of vaccination with other products has so far not indicated a similar level of risk.”

The alert does not apply to the generic influenza vaccine marketed by Sanofi Pasteur MSD, Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (Split Virion) BP.

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