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'Tell us the truth on flu vaccine and narcolepsy'

TWO countries have linked the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix to narcolepsy but an Irish investigation remains stalled.

Parents of Irish children who have been diagnosed with the debilitating condition are pushing Health Minister James Reilly to publish a study into the cases immediately.

Members of Sound -- Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder -- have also welcomed a scientific study from Finland which says the Pandemrix vaccine contributed to the onset of the brain condition.

Mairead Lawless, spokesperson for Sound, which represents parents of over 33 children diagnosed with narcolepsy, has called for the Irish report to be published as soon as possible.

She has strongly criticised the fact that the review of the Irish cases has been on the desk of the Department of Health for over two months and nothing has been done with it.

"It would appear that both Finland and Norway have accepted responsibility for the injury Pandemrix has caused to the children with narcolepsy in their countries and are paying compensation.

"There has been no such admission in Ireland as yet."



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Ms Lawless stressed that parents of the children who developed narcolepsy in Ireland had allowed the Health Protection Surveillance centre, which drew up the report, access to their children's medical records.

"Minister James Reilly advised that this report would be made public prior to Easter, however it now seems that this timing will not be achieved."

The Finnish report found that "Pandemrix vaccine had contributed to the onset of narcolepsy among 4-19-year-olds during the pandemic influenza in 2009-2010".

They found the incident of narcolepsy was nine per 100,000 in vaccinated children compared to 0.7 per 100,000 in the unvaccinated children.

The authors said that narcolepsy, a rare neurological sleep disorder characterised by excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone) "has never before the A(H1N1) pandemic been reported in association with vaccination". The authors concluded that further studies were needed to determine if this was the case in other countries.

Ms Lawless said: "Sound hopes the HPSC report will confirm that in all probability, the vaccine Pandemrix has caused injury to our children."

csheehy@herald.ie


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