26-year-old Aoife Bennett has taken a vaccine compensation action as, she claims, she developed narcolepsy after having the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine administered.
Ms Bennet, who broke down in the High Court while testifying, said that she began suffering waves of excessive tiredness within weeks of having the vaccination administered. She told the court that she was informed that it was her responsibility to get the vaccine as Ireland faced a possible swine flu pandemic in 2009. She went on to say that she would never have had it if she had been are of the possible negative outcomes.
Mr Justice Michael MacGrath was informed that Ms Bennett was just 16 years of age when she had the vaccine in December 2009 as part of a mass vaccination programme. She advised the judge that she was “absolutely exhausted, before this I was very energetic and active. By Christmas Day 2009 the situation had become so bad that she said she had to drag herself downstairs for Christmas dinner with her family.
A special comfortable chair was provided for Ms Bennett to give evidence from and she snoozed before the judge came to the bench and she was sworn in to give evidence. In addition to this Justice MacGrath told her that she could take any breaks she required during her evidence.
In students were vaccinated at school on a class-by-class basis. Ms Bennett told the Judge that she asked to read a brochure. However she was informed that she did not need to read it. She said “I was reassured it was going to be fine”. She also told the Judge that, when narcolepsy was diagnosed in 2011, she had never heard of it prior to this point in time.
Ms Bennett, of Lakelands, Naas, Co Kildare, took the vaccination compensation action against the Minister for Health, the HSE, vaccine producer Glaxosmithkline Biologicals and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).
The action alleged that Health Service Executive produced brochures misled those who viewed them as to the safety of the Pandemrix vaccine and the alleged risk linked to it being administered. The Judge was informed that the brochures included guidance which was factually incorrect.
The action alleged that Glaxosmithkline requested an indemnity from liability from the State before it would agree to produce the vaccine. The HPRA, it is alleged, was aware there was a different vaccine which had more clinical data to support its safety and efficacy.
All of the defendants in the legal action refute the claims made against them and deny liability.