A real-time early warning system to raise alerts about serious immunisation reactions and infectious disease outbreaks among children is to be rolled out for the first time across Victoria’s pediatric hospitals.
Researchers say the Australian-first project will help treat children earlier, protect the public quicker from infectious disease and prevent deaths from vaccine safety problems.
Associate Professor Jim Buttery, Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Monash Children’s Hospital, said the two aims of the Syntrack project were to use emergency department data to detect vaccine safety problems and outbreaks of influenzas, gastrointestinal complaints and other viruses as early as possible.
“Knowing earlier means we can treat patients quicker,” Associate Prof Buttery said.
“From the Health Department’s point of view, if there is an infectious disease outbreak that may also mean they can implement infection control procedures earlier to minimise the spread.
“It protects the public in a number of ways.”
The Royal Children’s Hospital, Monash Children’s Hospital and Western Health will be involved in the initial pilot study, which is being funded by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
Its rollout comes after a Perth family this month received a multi-million dollar payout from a vaccine manufacturer after their daughter was left brain damaged and a quadriplegic after her flu jab just before her first birthday.
An inquiry later found there had been crucial delays by the state’s health department in acting, with dozens of other children also suffering adverse reactions to the immunisation before the drug was banned nationally.
“The first sign that something was wrong (in the WA case) actually came from the emergency department, but they didn’t have a cohesive system to record it,” Associate Prof Buttery said.
“For severe adverse events, emergency departments are likely to be the first port of call.
“We have to first prove it’s possible to get the data joined together and mapped.
“If we can do three emergency departments, we’ll go state wide with the hope of rolling it out across the country.”
Source: Herald Sun