Medical authorities have yet to get to the bottom of the flu vaccine scare in Western Australia (WA), with tests so far showing no signs of abnormalities. Chief medical officer Jim Bishop says there is a possibility that a spike in cases of fever and convulsions for young children in WA could simply be linked to the higher number of vaccinations performed there. He has sought to reassure the public once more following last week’s moratorium on seasonal flu vaccinations for children aged under 5.

Western Australia
To date there have been 57 cases in WA, compared to 6 in Victoria, 4 in New South Wales and Queensland, 2 in South Australia and one each in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Tests conducted by the manufacturer, the Therapeutic Goods Administration and other independent experts have so far failed to pinpoint a possible cause, Professor Bishop said. “We don’t have evidence at this time that there’s any abnormality with the batch or with the vaccine,” he said. But authorities should have a better idea once some of the investigations conclude next week.

A World Health Organization influenza expert says it’s unlikely that a dodgy batch of seasonal flu vaccine is responsible for bad reactions in children.

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The Queensland Coroner is investigating the death of a 2-year-old Brisbane girl, found dead in her cot a day after she and her twin sister were vaccinated. Seasonal flu shots for children under 5 have been suspended since Friday [23 Apr 2010). Ian Barr, the deputy director of the World Health Organization influenza centre in Melbourne, told the ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] the cases involved several different batches of the vaccine. “If it was a single batch then you might think that that might be the case,” he said. “If multiple batches are involved then that’s less likely I think — but again we still need to wait.”  Australia’s chief medical officer professor Jim Bishop has ordered a review of hospitals records to better understand the scope of the problem. He’s also urged medical staff and parents to immediately report any adverse reactions among children.