ATLANTA (AP) â€” A government panel is recommending doctors steer clear of giving one brand of flu vaccine to young children this year because of convulsions and fever in kids who got the shot in Australia and New Zealand.
At issues is the flu vaccine made by CSL Biotherapies, an Australian company. CSL is one of five manufacturers supplying the U.S. this fall but it only accounts for a small portion of the 170 million doses.
On Thursday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said doctors should avoid using the CSL vaccine in children ages 6 months through 8 years.
Committee members were concerned about the unexplained higher rate of fevers and related seizures seen in young children who got the vaccine earlier this year in Australia and New Zealand. In kids under 5, the rates were roughly 10 times that of other flu vaccines. No deaths have been linked to the problem.
The panel said the vaccine could be used in children older than 5 if they were at greater risk of flu complications and no other vaccine was available.
The committee provides vaccine advice to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which usually adopts its recommendations and sends the advice to doctors and the public.
Australian investigators have been unable to find anything in the CSL vaccine that might explain why it would cause more fevers and convulsions in children.
But a CSL spokeswoman said the company agreed with the U.S. committee's decision.
"We support the precautionary approach," said spokeswoman Sharon McHale.
She said the company had already decided not to distribute one version of its vaccine intended for the youngest children. That means CSL will only be providing 10.5 million of the 170 million U.S. doses.