H1N1 vaccine carries risk of rare disorder

By | October 23, 2009

H1N1 vaccine carries risk of rare disorder

Kaylann and Sylvie Daigle learned how to walk at the same time.

Kaylann was 11 months old. Sylvie, her mother, was 27.

At an Ottawa rehabilitation centre, Sylvie would be strapped into a harness and held up by two people as she struggled to put one foot in front of the other.

Move, she silently willed her feet. Please, move.

On Oct. 6, 2004, the Ottawa woman woke with a tingling in both hands. She assumed she had slept on them. It never occurred to her to worry.

But the numbness and tingling grew worse as the day wore on. That night, when she stepped under the shower, the water felt like nails against her skin.

She went to an emergency room, where the doctor said it looked like multiple sclerosis, and sent her home with instructions to see a neurologist. Don’t worry, the doctor told her. MS is slow moving.

By the next morning, Sylvie was back in emergency. Her legs felt heavy and the numbness was creeping up her arm and into her chest.

Fifteen minutes after the triage nurse took her information, Sylvie heard her name called. When she tried to get up, she couldn’t move. Her legs were paralyzed. She kept rocking in her seat, trying to stand. “It was as if I had no legs.”

From there, “it went really fast.” It was 10:30 a.m. By 3 p.m., Sylvie was paralyzed from the neck down. The cells in her peripheral nerves were being attacked by her own immune system, including the nerves that supply the muscles that make her lungs inflate.

The doctors discussed cutting a hole into the trachea in her neck, to help her breathe.

Sylvie was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that hospitals and doctors across Canada are being told to be on the lookout for when H1N1 vaccinations begin in November.

Sylvie and other GBS victims worry many doctors may not know it to see it.

In 1976, when swine flu was found in soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., the U.S. government launched a mass vaccination of more than 40 million people against a pandemic that never happened. The shots were halted after 10 weeks, after 532 new cases of GBS were discovered during active surveillance for reactions to the shots.

According to World Health Organization experts, for no clear biological explanation, the shots increased the risk of GBS in adults within the first six weeks following vaccination.

As Canada prepares for the largest vaccination program in the nation’s history, health officials are rushing to implement enhanced surveillance systems to check for GBS and other potential “adverse events” when the shots are released in November.

via H1N1 vaccine carries risk of rare disorder.


Following the controversy created by reports that people vaccinated with the Influenza A (H1N1) shot may be more prone to seasonal flu, Ottawa health authorities sought to allay public fear the reports may have generated.

In a joint press conference with Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq set up to update Canadians about the H1N1 pandemic situation, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. David Butler-Jones said the federal government will provide lawsuit protection against swine flu vaccine maker GlaxoSmithKline if there would be future side effects.

However, Butler-Jones clarified the legal protection does not provide cover for physicians who inject a patient with H1N1 immunization shots that would result to an error due to the wrong way of administering the injection or from a malpractice.

More on the protection from lawsuits:

The last time the government embarked on a major vaccine campaign against a new swine flu, thousands filed claims contending they suffered side effects from the shots. This time, the government has already taken steps to head that off. Vaccine makers and federal officials will be immune from lawsuits that result from any new swine flu vaccine, under a document signed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, government health officials said Friday.

Since the 1980s, the government has protected vaccine makers against lawsuits over the use of childhood vaccines. Instead, a federal court handles claims and decides who will be paid from a special fund. The document signed by Sebelius last month grants immunity to those making a swine flu vaccine, under the provisions of a 2006 law for public health emergencies. It allows for a compensation fund, if needed.

… First identified in April, swine flu has so far caused about 263 deaths, according to numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday. The CDC said more than 40,000 Americans have had confirmed or probable cases, but those are people who sought health care. It’s likely that more than 1 million Americans have been sickened by the flu, many with mild cases. – cryptogon


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