Update on Febrile Seizures in Children Following Vaccination with Influenza Vaccines and Pneumococcal Vaccines
CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continuously monitor the safety of vaccines recommended for children and adults in the United States. Since vaccinations may be associated with fevers and some fevers result in seizures, one of the things vaccine safety monitoring programs look for is whether vaccines are associated with febrile seizures (seizures caused by a fever). During the past year, there was enhanced focus on monitoring for febrile seizures after influenza (flu) vaccine because in Australia, during the 2010 Southern Hemisphere influenza season, one Australian influenza vaccine was found to increase the chance of febrile seizures in young children who received it. Because of this finding in Australia, one brand of vaccine made by the same manufacturer is not recommended for children under 9 years of age in the United States. After monitoring for febrile seizures during the 2010-2011 influenza season, CDC, FDA, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), reviewed vaccine safety data on febrile seizures in the United States following 2010-11 inactivated influenza and pneumococcal conjugate (PCV 13) vaccines. After thoroughly evaluating the available information, CDC has determined that no changes in the childhood immunization schedule are necessary at this time.
CDC studied the healthcare visit records of more than 200,000 vaccinated children 6 months through 4 years of age through its Vaccine Safety Datalink project during the entire 2010-2011 influenza season. The analyses found that febrile seizures following inactivated influenza and PCV13 vaccines given to this age group did occur, but were rare. The febrile seizures were most common in children ages 12 through 23 months when the two vaccines were given during the same healthcare visit. In this group, about one additional febrile seizure occurred among every 2,000 to 3,000 children vaccinated.
Getting recommended childhood vaccines during a single healthcare visit has important benefits. On-time vaccinations keep children protected against many infectious diseases, and providing multiple vaccinations in a healthcare visit minimizes the number of healthcare visits that parents, caregivers, and children must make. Timely influenza and PCV 13 vaccinations will prevent febrile seizures by protecting young children against influenza and pneumococcal infections, both of which can cause fever.
Febrile seizures and fever reducing medicines
Febrile seizures can be frightening for a child's caregivers and parents, but nearly all children who have a febrile seizure recover quickly and are healthy afterwards. Febrile seizures can happen with any condition that causes a fever, including common childhood illnesses including respiratory tract illnesses, influenza, ear infections, or roseola caused by herpesvirus 6. About 2-5% of young children will have at least one febrile seizure, generally associated with an illness. Because vaccines can cause fever, febrile seizures sometimes happen after vaccination, although rarely. Medicines, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can lower fevers in children. However, scientific studies have not shown that these fever-reducing medicines will prevent febrile seizures in children. Aspirin and aspirin-containing products should not be used to reduce fever in children because of the increased risk for Reye syndrome with aspirin ingestion and viral infections.