Febrile seizures following measles and varicella vaccines in young children in Australia

Kristine K. Macartney, Heather F. Gidding, Lieu Trinh, Han Wang, Jocelynne McRae, Nigel Crawford, Michael Gold, Anne Kynaston, Christopher Blyth, Zurynski Yvonne, Elizabeth Elliott, Robert Booy, Jim Buttery, Helen Marshall, Michael Nissen, Peter Richmond, Peter B. McInytre, Nicholas Wood

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25 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Febrile seizures (FS) are common in childhood with incidence peaking in the second year of life when measles and varicella-containing vaccines are administered. This study aimed to examine the vaccine-attributable risk of FS following separate administration of MMR and monovalent varicella vaccines (VV) prior to a planned change to MMRV as the second dose of measles-containing vaccine at 18 months of age. METHODS: All FS cases in children aged <5 years from 1st January 2012 to 30th April 2013 were identified from emergency department (ED) and inpatient databases at five Australian tertiary paediatric hospitals participating in PAEDS (Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance). Immunization records were obtained from the Australian Childhood Immunization Register (ACIR). The relative incidence (RI) of FS following MMR dose 1 (MMR1) and VV in children aged 11-23 months was determined using the self-controlled case series (SCCS) method and used to calculate attributable risk. RESULTS: There were 2013 FS episodes in 1761 children. The peak age at FS was 18 months. The risk of FS was significantly increased 5-12 days post receipt of MMR1 at 12 months (RI=1.9 [95% CI: 1.3-2.9]), but not after VV at 18 months (RI=0.6 [95% CI: 0.3-1.2]. The estimated excess annual number of FS post MMR1 was 24 per 100,000 vaccinated children aged 11-23 months (95% CI=7-49 cases per 100,000) or 1 per 4167 doses. CONCLUSIONS: Our study detected the expected increased FS risk post MMR1 vaccine at 12 months, but monovalent varicella vaccine at age 18 months was not associated with increased risk of FS. This provides baseline data to assess the risk of FS post MMRV, introduced in Australia as the second dose of measles-containing vaccine at 18 months of age in July 2013.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1412-1417
Number of pages6
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Febrile seizures
  • Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine
  • Risk
  • Vaccine safety
  • Varicella vaccine

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