The Government has admitted that they have found a ‘causal association’ between swine flu vaccination and narcolepsy in children and adolescents in England.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said that after new information provided by the Department for Health they would pay damages to some individuals who were treated with the Pandemrix vaccine before the 31st August 2010.
The DWP says it has contacted four families, who had previously written to them making claims for vaccine damage payments, saying that they will reconsider their cases.
The Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme provides a one-off, tax-free payment to people who become ‘severely disabled’ as a result of a vaccination. But previously, damage payment claims made for the swine flu vaccine were not considered.
However, in light of new research, the government have agreed that there it is now clear that there is a link between the two, although it emphasised the risk of narcolepsy from the vaccine was still very low, estimating an attributable risk between one in 57, 500 and one in 52, 000 doses.
The Pandemrix swine flu vaccine was introduced in October 2009 and by March 2010 it is estimated that 24% of children under the age of five and 37% of children in risk groups between the ages of 2 and 15 had received the vaccine in England.
Since 2011, administration of the vaccine has been restricted in Europe for people under the age of 20 after other studies in Finland and Sweden suggested a link between the Pandemrix vaccine and narcolepsy in children and adolescents.
A DWP spokesperson said: ‘DWP has looked at some vaccine damage payments cases again in light of new information regarding swine flu and narcolepsy provided by the Department for Health.
‘We cannot comment on the specifics of individual cases but can confirm that once this new information was taken into account it was decided, on balance of probability, in some cases that causation was proved.’
A spokesperson from GSK, who manufacture the Pandemrix vaccine, said, ‘Patient safety is our number one priority and we are actively researching how narcolepsy is triggered and how this vaccine might have interacted with other risk factors in affected individuals. We hope these ongoing research efforts will enable us to provide more answers.
‘Narcolepsy is a complex disease and its causes are not yet fully understood but it is generally considered to be associated with genetic and environmental factors, including infections. We remain committed to pursuing additional research to understand the association between Pandemrix and narcolepsy and continue to support the research of others who are investigating reported cases.’