Practice nurses have been warned not to use the influenza vaccine Viroflu in children under five years old due to an increased risk of fever.
The Department of Health warning about Viroflu follows similar restrictions being placed on generic influenza vaccines, produced by Enzira and CSL Biotherapies and marketed by Pfizer, due to an increased risk of fever and febrile convulsions in children.
In a letter to GP practices, DH director of immunisation David Salisbury advised nurses to use an alternative seasonal vaccine authorised for younger children.
“If no suitable alternative vaccines are available, clinicians should make parents aware of the risk and give clear advice about the management of post-vaccination fever in children,” he added.
For example, parents should be advised to monitor for fever for two to three days following vaccination.
Professor Salisbury wrote: “The seasonal influenza vaccine, Viroflu, produced by Crucell, uses the same starting antigen as the Enzira and CSL Biotherapies generic influenza vaccines marketed by Pfizer.
“Whilst Viroflu is produced using a different manufacturing process, evidence suggests a higher rate of fever may be associated with use of this vaccine in children under five years of age than is expected with other influenza vaccines.”
This year’s national flu vaccination programme will officially begin on 3 October, with the same groups targeted as last year.