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Children “given wrong seasonal flu jabs”

21 February 2011

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Some children have been given the wrong seasonal flu jab following a mix up over the type of vaccine they are allowed to receive, it has been reported.

There have been 108 cases over the last five years where children under the age of four have been given jabs that are unsuitable for a child of that age, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) said.

The government has said it is important for children aged over six months in at-risk groups to be given the vaccine but warned that GPs should take great care over which jab they administer.

The Department of Health highlighted the dangers of giving the jabs Enzira or CSL Biotherapies generic influenza vaccine, marketed by Pfizer, to children under five after reports some youngsters suffered febrile convulsions after being vaccinated.

There are around 10 flu vaccine brands in use.

A statement from the MDU said: “The MDU has received a number of calls from members on its advice line recently where there has been a mix up over the type of vaccine administered to children.

“In addition, a survey of cases reported to the MDU has revealed that 108 immunisation errors were reported over the last five years.

“Of these, 98 (90%) involved children and three concerned doctors administering the incorrect seasonal influenza vaccine to children.”

Dr Jacqui Phillips, MDU medico-legal adviser, said: “Although this number of adverse incidents is low considering the numbers of immunisations given, vaccine errors do represent a sizeable proportion of the medication incidents notified to the MDU.

“Not all seasonal flu vaccines are suitable for children and GPs need to ensure that neither they nor practice staff administer the incorrect ones.”

The MDU recommends doctors and practice nurses check records thoroughly before giving a vaccine, take a history of previous immunisations and any current medication.

Other measures include ensuring full parental consent and becoming familiar with the guidance notes for vaccines.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “The NHS does an excellent job in delivering the seasonal flu vaccination programme.

“Reducing the administration errors to even lower levels would help improve the programme further.

“It is the responsibility of the doctor or nurse giving the vaccine to check and ensure it is the right vaccine for the patient.”

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Medical Defence Union