Swine flu vaccine is linked to narcolepsy
29 March 2012
Connections between the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine and narcolepsy have been unveiled by a study in Finland which found that children who had had the jab against the H1N1 swine flu virus were between 13 and 17 times more likely to suffer from the involuntary sleeping disorder.
The study recorded that before the virus turned into a pandemic just 0.31 per 100,000 children had narcolepsy. But by 2010 the rate was 5.3 per 100,000 (about 17 times higher). By contrast, the narcolepsy rate in adults hadn't changed.
In another study, looking at children born between 1991 and 2005, those who were given the vaccine were 13 times more likely to suffer from narcolepsy than those who were not – nine per 100,000 compared with 0.7 per 100,000.
The Department of Health's Professor Sir David Salisbury said: "The department is aware of the Finnish data, and keeps all new evidence under review... [and] further UK research is going on into the risks associated with Pandemrix. This follows a European-wide review last year, which reached the conclusion that Pandemrix may only be used in people under 20 if the annual seasonal vaccine is not available and there is a particular need to immunise against H1N1."
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: "The data from Finland, as well as from Sweden, were considered as part of an in-depth European safety review of Pandemrix in 2011... the review acknowledged the important role that Pandemrix played in reducing the consequences of H1N1 in Europe during the pandemic.
"Further work is ongoing to establish if a similar risk is evident in other countries where the vaccine was used. This includes a UK study led by the Health Protection Agency. The MHRA will review any new data as it becomes available."