Compensation for Adverse Effects to Pandemrix Offered to UK Families

A support group in Ireland has claimed that the government has not fulfilled its promise to provide assistance for children suffering from the side effects of the 2009/10 flu jab, while compensation for adverse effects to Pandemrix has been offered to families in the UK.

The support group SOUND (Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder) has objected to remarks made by Health Minister James Reilly in a radio interview last week. In the interview, the health minister said that, to the best of his knowledge, all the personal and financial assistance that had been requested by families in Ireland whose children had contracted narcolepsy after being administered the flu vaccine Pandemrix had been provided.

However, Eilish Plunkett – a member of the SOUND committee – has claimed that the minister’s statement is not supported by the facts. Ms Plunkett, whose son Sean is one of the children suffering from narcolepsy as a result of the Pandemrix flu vaccine, commented that although some services and financial compensation for the adverse effects to Pandemrix were in place, the assistance that was being provided was classified as temporary.

Ms Plunkett said that the provision of support services and financial compensation for the adverse effects to Pandemrix could be removed at any time and that her son had a permanent illness which needed life-long support. She added that a package of permanent support measures recommended in the official 2012 report Investigation of an Increase in the Incidence of Narcolepsy in Children and Adolescents in 2009 and 2010” had still not gone before the government for approval despite assurances from Health Minister James Reilly that they would be approved prior to the 2012 summer recess.

Meanwhile families in the UK have been told that – provided it can be shown that their children have suffered a severe disability – they will be eligible for compensation for the adverse effects to Pandemrix through the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme administered by the UK´s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). A DWP spokesperson said “The Department for Work and Pensions 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”.

More than 800,000 doses of Pandemrix were administered in Ireland throughout the winter of 2009/10, following which the Health Service Executive said it knew of thirty cases of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy among children who were administered the vaccine. However, the support group SOUND claims to represent the interests of fifty-four children who are suffering from adverse effects to Pandemrix.