Parents blame swine flu vaccine for son’s narcolepsy

A six year old boy’s parents have claimed that he developed narcolepsy after a swine flu vaccination. Caroline Hadfield said son Josh lost muscle control and started sleeping up to 19 hours a day three weeks after being given Pandemrix nearly two years ago.

Caroline Hadfield claims her six-year-old son Josh developed the condition just three weeks after being given the jab. She has set up a website to see if other children have developed the symptoms after taking the drug called Pandemrix.

Josh, from Frome in Somerset, had shown no symptoms of narcolepsy prior to February 2010, and it took another year for doctors to diagnose the condition. Mrs. Hadfield said her son “became a different boy” soon after receiving the vaccination, and Josh was also found to have cataplexy which makes his muscles collapse whenever he laughs. She said, “Initially, I put it down to being the end of term, coming up to half-term week…He was tired and then he started losing muscle control so he couldn't hold things properly.”

Mrs. Hadfield, of Frome, Somerset, said, “He was like a puppet whose strings were cut. Nothing could convince me it was anything but the jab that caused it.” Josh is now on anti-depressants to control his condition. “We are working very hard with the regulatory authorities to try to understand what is happening,” she said.

Maker GlaxoSmithKline UK medical director Dr Pim Kon, said, “There is currently no evidence at all to suggest there is a causal link between Pandemrix and narcolepsy. We are working very hard with the regulatory authorities to try to understand what is happening. At the end of day, patient safety is of utmost importance to us and we wouldn't ever put out a drug or leave it out there if we believed that it actually was a true issue.” They state that only seven children have developed the syndrome from six million doses of the vaccine in the UK.

Other tests in the UK have not revealed a link between Pandemrix and narcolepsy, although the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency said “a similar risk had only been confirmed in Finland and Sweden”. In Finland, investigators found 79 vaccinated children and adolescents had developed narcolepsy, 12 times more than they would expect. The Finnish government said it accepted a link between Pandemrix and narcolepsy and has promised compensation and support for affected families.

The Finnish Health Minister Paula Risikko said, “We have decided to take these measures because the decision to acquire the vaccine was ours under the threat of a pandemic, and therefore we want to take the responsibility for the outcome.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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