January 23, 2013
On January 22, 2013, Reuters reported that nearly 800 children in Europe have developed narcolepsy, an incurable sleep disorder, after being immunized with the Pandemrix H1N1 swine flu vaccine produced by the British drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline in 2009. Reports of spikes in narcolepsy cases are also surfacing in Finland, Norway, Ireland, France and Sweden.
During the 2009-2010 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, the vaccine was given to more than 30 million people in 47 countries. So far, a total of 795 people have reported developing the incurable sleep disorder after receiving the vaccine. Because it contains a booster, drug regulators have concerns about the vaccine and the shots have not been given here in the U.S.
According to the Reuters article, experts are hesitant to blame the vaccine. Questions still remain regarding how the narcolepsy cases might be linked to Pandemrix, what the triggers and biological mechanisms might have been, and whether or not genetic susceptibility have anything to do with it.