The vaccination of children and adolescents in Finland with swine flu vaccine – Pandemrix – has been suspended until a link to narcolepsy has either been ruled out or detected, the Finnish National Institute for Health and Wefare (THL – Terveyden ja Hyvinvoinin Laitos) announced today. THL said this is a precautionary measure until the issue has been adequately examined and explained.

The seasonal flu vaccine recommendations in Finland are to include the swine flu vaccination. In other words, Finland hasn’t halted swine flu jabs per se, but rather the stand-alone version with adjuvants.

As there is no current epidemic in Finland, hence there is no immediate need for vaccination, THL added. Discretionary vaccinations will be allowed if the individual plans to travel to an infected area.

THL says the reported cases of narcolepsy could be due to:

  • The H1N1 (swine) flu infection itself
  • The vaccination
  • The vaccination interacting with some other factor

Experts say that infections can cause narcolepsy.

To date, six cases have been reported to Finnish authorities of narcolepsy after vaccination. An additional nine cases may also be linked.

Ninety million people have received the Pandemrix vaccine worldwide this year, over 4 million of whom are children. In Europe over 30 million people have received the vaccine. According to EMEA (European Medicines Agency), no problems have been detected or reported this year.

Sweden reported six cases of narcolepsy in August. Swedish authorities are also investigating.

THL stresses that seasonal influenza vaccination recommendations remain unchanged.

THL says it will take several months to determine whether there is a link between the Pandemrix vaccine and narcolepsy. Pandemrix is a flu vaccine for pandemics, such as the H1N1 2009 flu pandemic. It was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and patented in September 2006.

Source: Finnish National Institute for Health and Wefare (NIHW)

Written by Christian Nordqvist