Surge of 20pc in narcolepsy cases is linked to swine flu jab as families seek damages
The number of people presenting with symptoms of narcolepsy from the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix has soared by more than 20pc in the wake of an Irish Independent exposé.
Support group Sound said they were dealing with around 100 families whose children had taken Pandemrix but more than 20 new families have contacted them in the past six months.
A major Irish Independent investigation in August revealed some children received a double dose of Pandemrix when swine flu vaccine stocks were used from January 2011 amid fears of a winter flu jab shortfall.
Thousands received a single vaccine dose in 2009/2010.
But the 2011 re-issue was almost two years after research data showed indicators that Pandemrix had, in the case of narcolepsy/cataplexy, up to 13 times higher rate of adverse incidents than other vaccines.
"We still do not know how many Irish children received Pandemrix when it was re-issued in 2011," Sound co-founder Tom Matthews said. "After 10 years we were shocked to find that some of the new cases involved previously undiagnosed narcolepsy.
"Despite assurances given eight years ago, the route to rapid diagnosis has clearly not been streamlined, as is proved by the emerging number of sufferers."
A test case is due before the High Court in October with many of the 75 actions being handled by solicitors Michael Boylan and Gillian O'Connor.
"The fact that the general public were not made aware by the Health Minister or HSE that Pandemrix was untested, prior to or even during the vaccination programme as adverse data emerged, is one of the reasons why we have now served the State defendants with claims for aggravated and exemplary damages," Ms O'Connor said.
"It is a scandal and totally unacceptable that our clients have had to fight tooth and nail for appropriate redress for the dreadful injuries caused for the past eight years given that this information has been within the defendants knowledge all this time."