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Dáil Issues, Oral Questions, Transport Tourism and Sport

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Dáil Issues, Health

The revelation this week that some individuals received not one, but two, doses of controversial swine flu drug Pandemrix In 2011, is genuinely staggering! Some of these people went on to develop narcolepsy, an horrific incurable condition which results in sufferers falling asleep without warning, which frequently co-occurs with cataplexy, which essentially results in a person’s body being temporarily paralysed, rendering the person unable to speak or move. In April 2017 I highlighted the case of a boy who developed narcolepsy having received the swine flu vaccine in 2010 to Enda Kenny, telling him:

‘I refer to the case of a young man who has narcolepsy, which is a lifelong debilitating disorder. He can fall asleep without warning and has done so. He has smashed his teeth and broken his bones. He experiences terrifying hallucinations in a state of sleep paralysis. He has to be given expensive anaesthetics so that he can get a few hours’ sleep. He has developed joint and muscle pain. He suffers from anxiety and depression to the extent that he has tried to kill himself. He is 14 years of age. This condition, for which there is no cure, limits every aspect of his daily life. While his condition is bad, the worst thing is that he did not always have it. He was not born with it. It is not a genetic disorder. This was an avoidable catastrophe. This young man, like 80 others, developed the condition as a result of receiving the Pandemrix vaccination for swine flu in 2010.’

Narcolepsy is an utterly devastating condition. But what makes it all the more devastating in this context is the realization that they need not have suffered. The problems with Pandemrix were known but criminally ignored by elements within the HSE. This has been going on for years now as 80 cases of mainly young adults have been forced into litigation by a foot dragging establishment, whose modus operandi continues to be deny, delay, circle the wagons, rather than openness and accountability. This weeks revelations are the last straw. Minister for Health Harris & former Minister for Health Leo Varadkar must act. I already warned them of this is in May of this year, (link to my May leaders). Since then they have done nothing. The victims & their families deserve full openness, an agreement to full disclosure & engagement, rather than adversarial litigation, a no fault vaccine compensation scheme as agreed in the program for government.

Here’s what we know…

In September 2009 the Irish Medicines Board(IMB) sent a letter to the Chief Medical Officer of the HSE, Tony Holohan, That letter stated quite clearly that the none of the swine flu vaccines had been fully tested, & that at the point, ‘no safety data’ was available in regard to the vaccines. In other words, clinicians would be prescribing it without knowing what possible side-effects it might have.

IMB letter to Tony Holohan – Click to view

It quite clearly stated that ‘the absence of information on dosage in children and use in pregnant women may be a difficulty for national health authorities when making recommendations for the safe use of the vaccines in these patient populations’. Despite this, the HSE released a leaflet a month later, advising pregnant women that they should get the vaccine, and saying: ‘We expect the swine flu vaccine to be as safe as the usual seasonal flu vaccine, which has been used for more than 60 years. Serious side effects are expected to be very rare.’

October 2009 HSE leaflet stating that Pandemrix had been ‘fully clinically tested’ – Click to view

The HSE had absolutely no evidence on which to base these assertions -in fact the September 2009 letter shows they had evidence to the contrary! Worse still, the leaflet stated: ‘The vaccines are fully licensed and clinically tested, This was patently false as they knew they were not ‘fully clinically tested’. The letter from the IMB stated: ‘While Clinical trials have commenced there are no data yet available from these trials.’ And yet the HSE told the public in October 2009 that the vaccines were ‘fully clinically tested’. This is absolutely outrageous and someone must be held to account.
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