Sweden prepared to offer swine flu jab apology

Photo: Bertil Ericsson/TT

Published: 24 Nov 2013 09:26 GMT+01:00Updated: 24 Nov 2013 09:26 GMT+01:00

Sweden's Minister of Social Affairs Göran Hägglund has said he is prepared to make a public apology to the people, most young adults and children, who suffered from narcolepsy following vaccination against swine flu.

"I have no problem promising one if it is requested it, or if it is thought that it could lead to any improvement for these families," Hägglund said to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

 

After it was established that the swine flu vaccination caused narcolepsy the state promised to be generous. But it is neither the state nor local health authorities who determine which sufferers are entitled to help, this responsibility falls on the private insurance firm Läkemedelsförsäkringen.

 

In order to receive compensation from insurance company, the patient must have been aware of the symptoms within eight months from the time of vaccination.

 

Some 28 people , including 19 children, have been thus denied compensation because they did not notice the symptoms in time, according to the SvD report.

 

However, according to several experts to whom both TT and SvD have spoken, such a limit can not be placed on the condition. Symptoms are initially diffuse and were previously relatively unknown. Many sufferers seek other explanations for their fatigue and it may have taken some time before getting a diagnosis.

 

Despite the difficulties for some sufferers, Hägglund told the newspaper that there are no plans to help the group that has not received any compensation.

 

"Not at the moment," he said.

 

The Local reported last week about one sufferer of narcolepsy who was ejected from a popular Stockholm night spot after she fell asleep at the bar.

 

Evelina Perés, a 20-year-old Swede, reported Stockholm nightclub Café Opera to the Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsman, DO) after she was thrown out for dozing off. 

 

After snoozing on the stool, two bouncers took her by the arms and threw her onto the street, roughing her up enough to leave bruises on her arms, her report stated.

Perés, who has a doctor's certificate for her narcolepsy, wrote that the condition was a direct result of a swine flu jab, and added that she hoped her report could bring some much-needed attention to the problem.

"The state made us get the shot. We are already affected. We don't need to be punished more, we need support and help instead. I have friends with nacolepsy who no longer go out because they don't want to risk being kicked out," she told the paper.

A Swedish study  confirmed in March that the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix had a direct link to narcolepsy, with those taking the shot under the age of 21 at three times the risk of developing the condition.

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