There are reports from Sweden of possible deaths linked to the H1N1 vaccine; unconfirmed and unwelcome news which will surely complicate the very busy flu season that has descended on most of the northern hemisphere.
While confirmation has yet to be made by health authorities in Sweden, Associated Content is reporting that four people have died after receiving the H1N1 vaccine. Three of those are alleged to have been seniors with serious underlying health conditions. Very little is known about the fourth. The Local has reported that the outbreak of H1N1 flu in Sweden has picked up speed in the past few weeks. About 1 million Swedes have been vaccinated for H1N1. Stockholm News (English) reports that the deaths are being investigated, saying"... Yesterday the national agency received reports that two women had died a couple of days after having received the vaccine, a 90-year-old woman and a 74-year-old woman belonging to the risk group. There are two other cases investigated, one man with cardiac problems who died twelve hours after vaccination and a woman who was found dead two days after her vaccination."
An unconfirmed source says Swedish news sources are reporting at least 350 adverse reactions to the vaccine while saying the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control has denied a link between the adverse reactions and the vaccine.
Sweden contracted with Glaxo-Smith-Kline to provide the country with the EU-approved Pandemrix H1N1 vaccine. The vaccination program in Sweden started October 12, with health care workers and pregnant women immunized first.
In Germany, health officials caused a flap last week after suggesting that Pandemrix not be used to vaccinate young children. The medical authorities revealed that the government had ordered two different vaccines, one for government and army, one for the general public. The health officials recommended switching the vaccines. The Irish Times reported Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, the Vice-President of the German Medical Association, as saying “It would be wise to swap – the federal government should use the normal vaccine and make its own doses available to those who should be using the better-tested vaccine. We know the effects of the various ingredients in adjuvant vaccines but not the combined effect. It’s understandable that people are wary of getting jabs of drug cocktails.”
Pandemrix contains the booster adjuvant squalene, and many German physicians have recommended that young children not receive the adjuvanted vaccine. Germany's inoculation program for H1N1 began Monday, and the German population is angry that there are two different immunizations shots for people, with the riskier one going to the general public. Cevlapan is made by Baxter, does not contain an adjuvant, and is believed to have less adverse side effects than Pandremix.
Hungary has reported one death associated with the H1N1 vaccine, although confirmation has not yet been made. Hungary is using a Hungarian-made vaccine.
In the United States, anger is rising over a lack of H1N1 vaccine. The sudden deaths of young people and children, confirmed to have been caused by the H1N1 virus in North America has sparked a demand for the vaccination on both sides of the border.
Research has found pregnant women who become ill with the flu can give birth to children with brain damage, which has been linked to emotional and developmental problems later in life. One of the scientists involved in the study recommended pregnant women get immunized against the flu saying "There is more and more information that flu is very bad news during pregnancy."
Glaxo-Smith-Kline has reported a surge in revenues due to demand for antiviral drugs to fight the flu, and expects to make one billion pounds from the H1N1 vaccine alone.
There have been at least 5,000 deaths worldwide caused by the H1N1 virus.