Families whose children developed narcolepsy from swine flu vaccinations considering legal action

Swine flu vaccine families mull joint Pandemrix lawsuit

theforeigner.no | Mar 12, 2012

by Lyndsey Smith and Michael Sandelson

Twelve Norwegian families whose children developed narcolepsy after being vaccinated against swine flu (H1N1) are considering legal action, reports say.

Recent reports indicate approximately 45 children to date have had their disorder linked to Pandemrix following vaccination.

Vibeke Ellingsen, mother to 11-year-old Thea, told VG, “Everything that has happened feels so incredibly unfair. I hope that the government does not shrug its responsibilities. Authorities recommended us to do the best for our children. This turned out not to be the case, and us parents cannot be given the blame.”

The families are meeting at Frambu national resource centre in Ski municipality, eastern Norway, today to discuss the way forward.

Scientists already expressed their concerns over a possible connection between the vaccine and narcolepsy in 2011

Approximately 2.2 million Norwegians were vaccinated with Pandemrix under the 2009-2010 mass vaccination programme, roughly 598,000 of these were children and youths aged 6 months to 19 years.

Norsk Patientskadeerstatning (NPE), the national administrative body that reports to the Ministry of Health and Care Services, says it has received approximately 93 compensation applications regarding various swine flu vaccine-related medical issues so far.

Three children aged between eight and 15 have had their cases upheld after consideration revealed the Pandemrix-narcolepsy link was more than likely.

Meanwhile, VG has revealed eight Norwegian infants of eight to 12 weeks underwent clinical trials of Pandemrix to discover whether it was safe to give the vaccination to someone that age. They are believed to be the youngest in the world to have been tested.

Makers GlaxoSmithKline followed the infants over a course of 11 months afterwards. Whilst representatives alleged there were no serious side effects, the vaccine is no longer recommended for anyone under the age of 20.

In a report published following the end of the experiment, the company wrote it actively tried to recruit even more subjects, but “despite repeated attempts to improve recruitment (such as advertising campaigns, distribution of leaflets in maternity wards, visits to the childbirth clinics, letters, numerous phone calls to parents), only eight people participated.”

When questioned on the ethics of using infants, Director of Public Health Geir Stene-Larsen declared, “It would have been more ethically unjustifiable not to develop a vaccine for the group that perhaps were at highest risk of contracting the illness.”

The senior official has also stated he would not recommend administering the vaccine to children today.

Minister of Health and Care Services Anne-Grethe Strøm-Erichsen did not support his opinion at the time, however.

“The agreement for the supply and purchase of vaccine in the event of a pandemic was triggered when the WHO declared a pandemic in June 2009. The assessment made then was that it was mass vaccination was medically appropriate.”

Minister Strøm-Erichsen considers it serious that so many children have developed narcolepsy, but neither ministry officials nor GlaxoSmithKline would comment about the potential joint lawsuit.

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