A support group in Ireland has claimed that the government has not fulfilled its promise to provide permanent compensation for the side effects from the flu jab Pandemrix despite families in the UK being able to claim compensation from the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme
The support group Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder (SOUND) has claimed that comments made by Health Minister James Reilly in a radio interview last week were made without knowledge of the facts.
In the radio interview, the health minister said that – to the best of his knowledge – the personal and financial assistance that had been asked for by families in Ireland whose children had suffered side effects from the flu jab Pandemrix had been provided.
However, Eilish Plunkett – a SOUND committee member, whose son Sean is one of the children suffering from narcolepsy as a result of the Pandemrix flu vaccine – has claimed that the minister’s statement is not supported by the facts.
Ms Plunkett claims that although some services and financial compensation for the side effects from the flu jab Pandemrix were in place, the assistance that was being provided was classified as temporary and could be taken away at any time.
She said that her son has a permanent illness which needs life-long support and claimed that Health Minister James Reilly had promised the group that a package of permanent support measures recommended in an official 2012 report would be approved before the summer recess in 2012.
However, the report – “Investigation of an Increase in the Incidence of Narcolepsy in Children and Adolescents in 2009 and 2010” –has still not gone before the government for approval while families in the UK have already been told how much compensation for the side effects of the flu jab Pandemrix they will be able to claim.
The financial support in the UK is being provided by the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme which is administered by the Department of Work and Pensions. Families who have children who have developed narcolepsy as a consequence of being administered the swine flu vaccine will be able to claim up to £120,000 provided that a severe disability can be proven.
A spokesperson from the Department of Work and Pensions said “The Department for Work and Pensions has looked at some vaccine damage payments cases again in light of new information regarding swine flu and narcolepsy provided by the Department for Health”.
More than 800,000 doses of the flu jab Pandemrix were administered in Ireland throughout the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009/10. The Health Service Executive acknowledged that there were thirty cases of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy among children who were administered the flu jab. However, SOUND claim to represent the interests of fifty-four families in Ireland with children who are suffering from side effects to Pandemrix.