The family of a West Australian child left severely disabled after receiving a flu jab has reached a settlement with the vaccine’s manufacturer and the State Government.
Saba Button suffered brain and organ damage after getting the Fluvax shot when she was 11 months old in 2010.
Her parents launched legal action in the Federal Court against the vaccine’s manufacturer, CSL Limited.
CSL cross-claimed against the State of WA and the Health Minister.
All parties have reached a confidential settlement which has today been accepted by Federal Court Justice Michael Barker.
Saba’s father, Mick Button, said it had been a long battle for compensation.
“Today is a bittersweet feeling for us,” he said.
“It’s a relief to have the legal case behind us.
“We now have the ability to be able to supply Saba with the care, the therapy, the equipment, all the things that she needs to give her the best quality of life.”
Her mother Kirsten Button said she was relieved the legal action had been finalised.
“It doesn’t matter how much you have because you can’t buy your health but it is a good outcome, and the fact that it’s settled, we’re quite a strong family and we have moved forward but I think having that hanging over your head as such can be stressful so now we can move forward knowing that it’s all over.”
Mr Button said the funds would help Saba continue ongoing therapy and explore new options both in Australia and overseas.
“This doesn’t just stop now, once all the cameras are gone, it’s back to business and we’ve got a lot to do with Saba,” he said.
Problems with flu vaccine sparked national ban
In his judgement, Justice Barker said Saba had suffered hypoxic brain injury and consequential, severe disabilities.
“Her life expectancy has been significantly shortened,” he said.
“Her disabilities are profound and permanent.
“She will require constant care for the remainder of her life.”
The settlement is described as “a substantial figure, plus a contribution towards legal costs” and is believed to be worth millions of dollars.
Health Minister Kim Hames said he was pleased the matter had been resolved and wished the Button family well.
Hundreds of children suffered adverse reactions after they were given the flu shot in 2010 with many of them taken to hospital.
It led to an Australia-wide suspension of the vaccination for children under five.
Authorities were criticised for not acting quickly enough to advise GPs of the problems or identifying that there was an issue.
An independent report, compiled by a former chief medical officer, criticised both Commonwealth and state health authorities for the way they dealt with the incident.
Fluvax has since been banned for children under the age of five.