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Kids vaccine 5-11 rollout: Doctor hits out at anti-vaxxers sharing TGA reports of adverse reactions

A leading doctor has slammed “lying” social media users for spreading reports of serious adverse reactions to the Covid-19 vaccine among young children.

A leading paediatrician has slammed “lying” social media users for spreading reports of serious adverse reactions to the coronavirus vaccine among young children online.

Australia’s medicines regulator says as of January 23 it has received 240 reports of adverse events in the jab rollout for five to 11-year-olds, the vast majority of which have been mild and expected.

A spokeswoman for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) told news.com.au there had been a “number of individual reports of other types of reactions, none of which represents a signal for any serious reaction”, and that those reports – published on a two-week time delay on the regulator’s public Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN) – do “not mean that the vaccine caused the reported event”.

In recent days, social media users have combed through the now available entries in the DAEN covering the first week of the children’s vaccine rollout, which began on January 10, to highlight a number of reports describing serious incidents.

Among the more serious entries in the DAEN are reports of “vaginal haemorrhage” in an 11-year-old girl, “lip swelling, scrotal swelling, scrotal pain” in a six-year-old boy, “chest pain, seizure” in an 11-year-old girl, “visual impairment” in a six-year-old girl, as well as several reports of varicella, or chicken pox.

“Is this normal folks?” one Twitter user wrote, sharing a screenshot from the DAEN.

Robert Booy, professor of paediatrics and child health at the University of Sydney Children’s Hospital Westmead Clinical School, said anti-vaxxers were “deliberately” misrepresenting the data.

“Anti-vaxxers are deliberately lying on social media, they’re deliberately misinterpreting careful surveillance data as indicating a causative relationship between vaccination and health occurrences,” Prof Booy told news.com.au.

“Because the sun comes up and five minutes later someone has a car crash, is that a causative relationship? My God, let’s introduce a little bit of intelligence and reasonableness into this discussion.”

Prof Booy said it was “extremely important to investigate any health occurrence in detail”, but that “the surveillance work already done in the last three weeks indicates a great deal of evidence in favour of the safety of the vaccine in children”.

“Indeed, the number and types of side effects being reported are no different to teenagers and adults, but they are different because they’re less common,” he said.

“Children tolerate vaccination better than teenagers and adults and we’re pleased with the real-world evidence of safety in over 10 million North American children and close to one million Australian children.”

Prof Booy slammed anti-vaxxers for making false claims about children online.

“It is disturbing and very distressing for parents of children who’ve died from a completely different cause to have lies perpetrated on social media that their child died from a vaccination they never had,” he said.

Prof Booy said the TGA had 25 experts working on surveillance of side effects “to have the best quality and the most rapid analysis of any reported serious side effect”.

“They look at anything that’s a potentially serious event, whether or not it’s related, in order to reassure themselves and the public that there isn’t any new serious signal,” he said.

“For example, there was a concern in older teenage boys that one in 10,000 developed a temporary myocarditis, inflammation of the heart after the second dose of an mRNA vaccine. Therefore it was looked at very carefully in younger teenagers and primary school children, and found to be less common in younger children than it was in older teenage boys. Furthermore, the older teenage boys were followed up and they tended to get better in one to two weeks, and others that haven’t are being carefully assessed.”

In its most recent safety update, the TGA said it was “closely monitoring adverse event reports” in children aged five to 11.

“To January 23, 2022, we have received 240 reports from approximately 657,000 Comirnaty doses administered in this age group,” it said.

“The most common reactions reported included fainting, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and headache. We have received four reports of suspected myocarditis and/or pericarditis in this age group. Following review of information in the reports, none were likely to represent myocarditis and/or pericarditis when assessed against internationally accepted criteria for these conditions.”

The TGA said reports of more serious effects in US children were “extremely rare” with 100 reports from 8.7 million vaccine doses.

“The most common were fever, vomiting and in some cases seizures,” it said.

Late last month, a TGA spokeswoman told news.com.au there was “no signal for any new safety concerns arising from the limited number of adverse event reports received for children”.

The spokeswoman said the “vast majority” of reports “describe expected and non-serious adverse events”.

“There are a number of individual reports of other types of reactions, none of which represents a signal for any serious reaction,” she said.

“The TGA publishes adverse event reports in the Database of Adverse Event Notifications 14 days after they are included in the TGA’s internal database. Publication of a report in the DAEN does not mean that the vaccine caused the reported event. We encourage reporting of adverse events even if people think there is only a small chance the event could be linked to vaccination. Some events would have happened anyway, regardless of vaccination. This is particularly the case when millions of people are being vaccinated.”

As of February 1, more than 933,000 children aged five to 11, or 41 per cent, have had their first dose and just over 1700 have had their second, according to federal Health Department figures.

It comes after a popular Gold Coast GP this week said he had ben subjected to death threats after false reports were spread online that two children had died in his clinic after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr Wilson Chin told The Guardian the girls suffered a “normal” fainting episode and had since recovered – but that ”widespread panic” swept through his community after the false claims went viral on Facebook.

“Our address has been given to the public, and we have no security here,” he said. “Every time I finish work I look around the car park to make sure nobody is following me.”

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) on Tuesday called on Facebook to crack down on anti-vaxxers in the wake of the incident.

“A GP receiving death threats simply for doing his job trying to keep his community safe is completely unacceptable and I won’t stand for it,” RACGP president Dr Karen Price said in a statement.

“Since this matter is being dealt with by law enforcement it is not my place to comment on what happens next – however, I certainly hope this sends a strong message to other anti-vaxxers to back off and leave hardworking GPs and general practice teams alone. They are the unheralded heroes of the vaccine rollout working tirelessly to keep people safe from harm and they don’t deserve this.”

frank.chung@news.com.au

Read related topics:Vaccine




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