Almost 2,000 have adverse reactions to flu vaccine jabs
Published 31/03/2014 | 02:30
More than 1,900 reports of adverse reactions associated with flu vaccines have been made over the past five years to the country's drugs watchdog.
Information included within the reports indicated that 129 patients received hospital treatment, although they may not have required admission.
A total of 702,027 doses of flu vaccines were distributed in the 2012 to 2013 season, according to the Irish Medicines Board (IMB), which is responsible for the monitoring and investigation of reported adverse reactions following any medication. The IMB said: "The most frequently reported reactions included non-serious-type reactions."
They included injection site reactions, allergic-type reactions/rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, influenza-like symptoms including headache, fever, fatigue and malaise.
It said that these "are all very much in line with the known safety profile for these vaccines.
"In relation to the number of patients who required hospitalisation, the majority were elderly people, with significant underlying illness or medical conditions".
In a small number of cases, patients were hospitalised with influenza, despite vaccination.
The IMB said this may be related to the timing of vaccine administration in people already exposed to the virus.
Fianna Fail health spokesperson Billy Kelleher submitted a parliamentary question seeking information on the number of people hospitalised as a result of a reaction to the flu injection. The HSE quoted the IMB figures in its response.
Mr Kelleher said: "Clearly, it is greatly important that vulnerable people and high-risk people take the flu vaccine, and we always encourage people to do that. At the same time, we have to be conscious that, at times, there could be adverse reactions, and that people would be warned of that.
"Vaccines are for preventive purposes, and it shouldn't discourage people, particularly high-risk groups, from going for vaccination," he added.
In its response to Mr Kelleher, the HSE said that seasonal flu vaccine prevented flu illness in about 70 to 90pc of people.
The IMB received 1,915 reports of adverse reactions associated with the use of influenza vaccines over the past five years – this included reports associated with the vaccines used during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009 and 2010.