On the 23 April 2010 the TGA released a media statement regarding the adverse reactions of children < 5 years of age to the seasonal flu vaccine and their advisement for GPs to cease administration of the vaccine to this age group. That day ABC radio ran the story, initially describing how a child who had the vaccine had just been listed as in a critical condition. At this early stage of the controversy the CMO was applying the precautionary principle with regards to risk, the level of uncertainty with regards to the safety of the vaccine when administered to young children was too great- at that time the risk outweighed the benefit. The next day the ABC ran a news story where they interviewed a member of the AMA, Gary Geelhoed, regarding his concerns that such occurrences would have a detrimental effect on the vaccine uptake rates as a whole. Although agreeing that the reported adverse reactions to this year’s flu vaccine in young children needed to be investigated, it was important to “….advise parents to have the appropriate vaccination of their children.” Dr Geelhoed stressed that the benefits of vaccination “….. far, far, far outweigh any side effects.” He was definitely assessing the risk of vaccination as a whole from a regret rule perspective stating diseases such whooping-cough, diphtheria, tetanus etc where largely absent in our community due primarily to vaccines. By 28 April 2010, the ABC had switched its focus to the manufacturer of the vaccine CSL. In the absence of any new scientific or government information being communicated to the public as well as the death of a 2-year-old girl, saw the media filling the communication vacuum with emotive and accusatory stories. The blame game had started. Key to these stories was the relationship that CSL had with the Federal Government and the implication of lack of impartiality when it came to purchasing of vaccines for the community. Professor Pertrovsky from Flinders University and Director of a rival vaccine company suggested that CSL, although no longer a government body, had undue influence on the government’s decisions with regards to vaccine purchasing. He believed this relationship meant that the public was not being offered the best healthcare, with regards to vaccines that was available to them. In fact statistics for rival vaccines for the seasonal flu had shown a much lower rate of febrile convulsions in young children when compared to the CSL TIV vaccine, although the sample groups were small due to lack of availability of these rival vaccines. The question of trust in our scientists and governments was now being discussed. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/23/2880763.

htm http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/24/2881872.

htm http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/28/2884576.htm

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