11-month Old Left Paralysed by Flu Vaccine Receives Settlement

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By Athena Yenko | June 6, 2014 4:25 PM EST

In 2010, 11-month old Saba Button was left paralysed due to brain, kidney, and liver damage and bone marrow failure caused by flu vaccine Fluvax.  She suffered prolonged seizures after the shot.

Saba's parents lodged a case in the Federal Court against the Fluvax manufacturer, CSl Limited.

On Friday, June 6, parties had finally agreed to a settlement with which details were agreed to be confidential.

Saba had suffered hypoxic brain injury and consequential, severe disabilities, Federal Court Justice Michael Barker ruled.

"Her life expectancy has been significantly shortened. Her disabilities are profound and permanent. She will require constant care for the remainder of her life," Barker said.

The confidential settlement reportedly involved "a substantial figure, plus a contribution toward legal cost," according to a statement from Saba's parents. They said that the settlement, believed to be millions of dollars, will all be spent on Saba's future care needs.

Before Saba's controversial case, there were already more than 100 of reported cases showing adverse reaction on children who received the flu shot. There were also numerous reports and presentations from PMH,  but all information were kept from the general public, a report from Perth Now dated April 2011 said.

Investigations following Saba's case found that there were serious deficiency and slow response time from both state and federal authorities in addressing related cases. The Department of Health's Communicable Disease Control Directorate was informed of a significant rise in adverse reactions in early April 2010 but did not take any further action while they gathered data, according to the report.

In 2010, Health Minister Kim Hames said that suspending the flu vaccine programme due to a case like Saba's was one of the darkest days she have had as health minister.

"To be told our childhood influenza vaccination program might be putting Western Australian children at serious risk was nothing short of devastating. I remember being told a series of presentations of children with febrile convulsions had presented to PMH and at least one was in the hospital's intensive care unit. We suspended the program within hours, a full day before the Commonwealth followed suit and suspended the program nationally," Hames said.

Three days following Saba's admission to the intensive care at the Princess Margaret Hospital, Fluvax was immediately recalled and was banned from children under five years old.

A 2012 study from the federal Health Department's Therapeutic Goods Administration revealed that Fluvax triggers side effects four times compared to two rival vaccines.

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