The jab that gave me an eight-week headache
WHEN Hannah Easun had her meningitis vaccination at the beginning of the year she suffered the usual sore arm for a few days but no other ill effect. So when the normally fit teenager, from Effingham, Surrey, started suffering from a crushing headache on the eve other GCSE exams, herparents were concerned.
It was so unlike Hannah to be ill, and we were really worried about what might be wrong with her, says her mother, Penny. The pain was incredibly severe and at first we suspected meningitis, until we realised she had been vaccinated a few months earlier. At first Hannah took conventional painkillers for what was thought to be a bad migraine brought on by pre-exam stress.
But the headache got worse and failed to respond to pain killers. The pain was so intense that nothing we tried would make it go away, she recalls.
Nor did it go away. In fact it lasted more than eight weeks through one of the most crucial periods of her school career, the taking often GCSE exams.
It was like no headache I had ever had before, says Hannah. It wasnt a crushing pain it was like my head was ready to explode.
It was unremitting and so powerful that she could barely sleep at night. The only way I could get any rest was to sit and rock myself on the end of the bed until I fell asleep, she says.
HANNAHS mother was convinced the vaccine had something to do with the headache because other children at Hannahs school had been reporting similar, although less severe, symptoms. -
The painkillers were just not working, so we went to see our GP who thought it was exam stress and prescribed stronger painkillers.
But these had absolutely no effect, and Hannah was in more and more pain. Finally, we persuaded our GP to refer Hannah to a neurologist at the local hospital.
We knew about the short-term side-effects but nobody appeared to recognise the possibility of a sort of delayed reaction. It had been hard work getting to see a specialist. When we got to see a consultant, at first she suspected a brain tumour, or even meningitis until I pointed out that Hannah had been vaccinated. We made two visits to two hospitals and Hannah was given a range of tests, including an MRI scan.
They thought Hannah might have a virus, but this was ruled out, and when the scan results came back they showed absolutely no abnormalities.
The experts were left puzzled and unable to offer a solution. By then she had been suffering for nearly seven weeks and had actually begun her exams.
I didnt think she would be able to sit exams when she had a non-stop headache. I would go into her room and find her huddled on the bed rocking away trying to get some sort of relief.
With conventional medicine unable to help, Penny decided to turn to alternative medicine in the form of Jack Temple, a herbal homeopath.
Wed heard hed done a lot of work with children affected by vaccines and Hannah had seen him before for something else, she says.
Jack Temple has this theory that if the vaccine doesnt get properly distributed in the body, it can cause a blockage in the spinal fluid and make patients unwell.
We saw Jack twice. On the first visit he took one look at Hannah and saw she was in excruciating pain. He told us he could make the pain in one side of her head go away there and then, which I found amazing. But a lot of people have sworn by him in the past, so I was prepared to believe him.
The homeopath strapped pills containing the herb arnica on to Hannahs left arm, leg and torso with micropore medical tape.
It sounds a bit off the wall, but you have to remember that conventional medicine had given up on Hannahs pain and we had to try to find a solution ourselves, says Penny. After about 15 minutes, Hannah began to feel her pain fading, and within the hour it had gone from one side of her skull.
I find it amazing that one half-hour session with a herbalist could have achieved such a result after two months of hell for Hannah.
FEW days later, we went back, and Jack repeated the same treatment for the other side of Hannahs head. Once again, the pain began to fade rapidly and by the end of the session the pain had gone completely from her head.
It was an enormous relief because we thought we would never make Hannahs headache go away.
Jack Temple, who has a clinic in Woking, Surrey, says he has seen many children with similar symptoms to Hannah.
If the vaccine isnt properly distributed, it blocks the capillaries, restricting blood flow, he says.
It also attaches itself to various enzymes in the body and prevents the immune system from working properly. It doesnt happen with every child, of course, but there is a lack of recognition for the sort of complication that Hannah has suffered.
Penny Easun says she is not anti-vaccine and doesnt want to put off other parents, but feels there should be a greater recognition and acceptance of side-effects and more advice and support when things go wrong.
We were really left to our own devices, she says.
The Department of Health recognises complications and side-effects after a short period of time, but not several months later, as with Hannah.
My GP was sufficiently convinced that it was the vaccination because he filled in an official yellow adverse reaction form, which is returned to the DOH. You just wonder how many children fall outside the official statistics?
The Department of Health says the meningitis C vaccine is extremely safe and that it is investigating all adverse reactions. So far out of more than 15 million vaccinations against the disease, there have been 5,000 adverse reactions, mostly minor.
The most common, it says, are only slight such as dizziness, headaches for a short period, and a sore arm for a few days.
Younger children may experience disturbed sleep or a mild fever for a few days.
The Meningitis Research Trust is anxious that parents continue to have their children vaccinated.
Before vaccination, meningitis C was killing 150 people a year, mainly young people, says a spokesman.
Since the vaccination programme started, the number of reported cases of meningitis C has gone down by 75pc.
This is the first effective vaccine against the several forms of meningitis, and we want as many children as possible to have It.
MENINGITIS Trust 24-hour helpline: 0845 600 0800.