Thursday, February 16, 2012

Saba's story

Saba Button's story was on the front page of The Australian newspaper today. The story moved me deeply. I spent the time I would have been writing this post earlier today writing to the letters page of The Australian. My heart goes out to Saba's parents Kirsten and Mick Button, people I have never met but as a parent I have immense empathy for what has happened to their little girl and the ripple effect it has on their family.

As reported in The Australian today, Saba Button received the Fluvax influenza vaccination in 2010 and as a direct result of suffering febrile convulsions caused by the vaccination she is now brain damaged. Saba was in perfect health when she received the vaccination at 11 months. Now almost three Saba has epilepsy and has to be fed through a tube. Fluvax has since been banned for use in children under five. It has though been selected for Australia's flu immunisation program this year.

The photographs below show Saba and her mum and Professor Peter Collignon the photos are taken from a story published in The Australian in May last year titled Virus in the system written by Natasha Bita. It is an excellent feature article about the influenza vaccine and it is a must read for anyone considering flu vaccine or for that matter vaccination of any kind. Natasha Bita's reporting of this issue is exceptionally well balanced, unlike nearly every other piece written in mainstream media on the topic of vaccination.

Professor Peter Collignon (left) says last year's flu vaccine might have caused more harm than good in otherwise healthy children; Kirsten Button (centre) with baby Saba, 2, who has brain damage (picture: Frances Andrijich); and Saba when she was a "perfectly happy and healthy baby". Source: The Australian

Reading the report in The Australian this morning I wondered why children so young were being vaccinated for the flu? how many children get the flu each year? do any die? So I did a search and came up with this information (which I included in my letter to the editor) taken from Department of Health and Ageing Australian influenza report 2011 (No.14 - 30 September 2011), in it I read "In 2011, 14 influenza associated deaths have been notified to the NNDSS, with a median age of 47 years." 

And this "The Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit (APSU) conducts seasonal surveillance of children aged 15 years and under who are hospitalised with severe complications of influenza. Between 1 July and 18 October 2011, there have been 46 hospitalisations associated with severe influenza complications in children, including 20 ICU admissions. Of the 32 hospitalisations with completed questionnaires, around half of these hospitalisations were associated with pandemic (H1N1) 2009 infection, and 13 were noted as having underlying chronic medical conditions." 

The report did not state how many of these children were vaccinated. 

As of June 2010 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (report 3235.0) showed the population of children under 15 was 4.23 million. 

46 children hospitalised with severe influenza complications out of some 4.23 million, to me suggests that the risk of contracting a severe bout of influenza under the age of 15 is low.

Sadly it is too late for Kirsten Button to weigh up the risks of not vaccinating Saba based on these figures. Saba was in perfect health, she did not have an underlying chronic medical condition. 
She now has an irreversible condition that there is no price that can be paid to compensate how this has changed Saba's life and that of her family. At the expense of Saba's well being the learning to come out of this is for all Australians is to go the extra distance in informing themselves before they put their trust in their doctors hands and agree to any and every vaccination they are offered. 

Contrary to the amount of pressure placed on parents to vaccinate their children you do have a choice. Of course no parent wants to see their child with a severe or chronic illness as I was asked by a local general practitioner when she learnt I had chosen not to vaccinate my sons. Nor does any parent want or deserve their children to be accidental test cases for vaccines. 

Please take the time to read Virus in the system I feel it is the least we can do as a community to show support for the Button family and other families who have suffered as a result of vaccines.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to look into this issue. We are yet another family affected by this vaccine. We had always felt it was unnecessary to vaccinate our children against flu as they have no risk factors, but in 2010 my husband was undergoing chemotherapy so we were instructed to have the family vaccinated. My husband is now free of cancer, however our youngest son is still suffering the aftereffects of the vaccine and lack of care from the health system. We will never recommned a flu vaccine to anyone again.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story here. I am so sorry to hear this has happened. Words never seem enough but I do know the difference it makes to share stories. It must have been a very difficult time for you and your family during your husband's chemotherapy to say the least. As sad as I felt when I read your story I was so happy to read that your husband is now cancer free. I wish him continued good health and wish for you and your youngest son that the support you need starts coming forward. Thank you again.


Thanks for your comments. I read every one!

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