Sunday, February 13, 2011

Influenza: Narcolepsy and Vaccination

Today in section we reviewed some of the key features to a successful vaccine: effective, easy to administer, cheap to produce, easy to store/transport, long lasting immunity, can be given early in life, and has a low risk of side effects.

So, I was really interested in the title of the Pro-Med article 1)because of vaccination and 2) because we met a narcoleptic dog in one of my other classes this past week!

The WHO released information on 8 Feb 2011, stating cases of narcolepsy has been reported from at least 12 countries, with especially high reports from Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland iinvestigated the studies in Finalnd and during 2009-2010 they found a higher risk of narcolepsy among those aged 4-19 years old who had received the influenza vaccination 2009 compared to those who had not been vaccinated. The risk amongst those vaccinated between 4 and 19 is approximately 9 times greater than those unvaccinated. The vaccine used in Finland was Pandemrix, an adjuvanted influenza (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.

This Pandemrix vaccine was used in 47 countries during the 2009-2010 season, and studies are currently ongoing to see if the risk of narcolepsy reported in Sweden is higher in vaccinated persons. It has been suggested that the Pandemrix vaccine increased the risk of vaccine increased the risk of narcolepsy in those that were already genetically disposed with other genetic or environmental factors.

Vaccines can be tested numerous times, but this shows that wide and varied side effects can go undetected until mass administration is carried out. Vaccines can’t be perfect and thus is it always a cost benefit analysis.

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