[Usual blame the victim: "Initial post mortem results suggested the schoolgirl had a serious underlying health condition which meant it was 'unlikely' the vaccine had caused her death." The other ploy is: "rogue contaminated batch."]
Arthur Martin and
Last updated at 8:02 AM on 30th September 2009
The cervical cancer vaccination programme is in chaos today after the death of 14-year-old Natalie Morton.
Ministers insisted the scheme must go ahead and refused officially to suspend it.
But many health trusts are cancelling vaccinations due over the next few weeks while they investigate whether vaccine stocks are linked to the dose given to Natalie, who died on Monday hours after receiving the jab.
Initial post mortem results suggested the schoolgirl had a serious underlying health condition which meant it was 'unlikely' the vaccine had caused her death.
The local health trust in Coventry, which made the announcement, would give no further details to the nature of the problem.
It remains unclear whether Natalie's condition alone was to blame or whether it was a particular reaction when combined with the vaccine.
Yesterday cancer charities and health experts insisted that the jab remained safe and urged schools and families not to panic.
It also emerged that:
● A grassroots boycott of the jab was gathering pace as mothers vowed to prevent their daughters being used as 'guinea pigs';
● The U.S. drugs safety agency deferred an expected decision to approve Cervarix for use in the U.S. as a result of Natalie's death;
● Cancer charities expressed concern that if the numbers having the Cervarix jab drop too far, there will not be enough vaccinated girls to ensure general immunity in the population.
● Another girl at Natalie's school was ill last night after being struck down with chest and back pains following her HPV jab.
Sudden: Classmates left hand-written notes, candles and flowers outside the school in memory of Natalie
GlaxoSmithKline, the vaccine manufacturer, said there were about 200,000 doses in the suspect batch although it is not known how many have already been used.
The Coventry Primary Care Trust suspended its vaccination programme pending an investigation - and campaigners are calling for a national suspension.
But a spokesman for the Department of Health said there was no need - although it has told trusts to quarantine jabs found to come from the suspect batch.
Distraught: Pupils comfort each other after Natalie's death and, right, gather around the tributes outside the school in Coventry
'Following tragic news of the death of a girl in Coventry yesterday, the Department of Health is working closely with the NHS regulatory bodies to thoroughly investigate the details of the case,' the spokesman said.
'No link can be made between the death and the vaccine until all the facts are known. Results of tests on the batch of vaccine will be announced as soon as they are known.
'The HPV vaccination programme can continue as planned - there is no reason for the campaign to be suspended or interrupted.
'However, we recognise that minor delays may occur in the next day or so in some areas.'
An inquest is to be opened today into Natalie's death.
Last night Dr Caron Grainger, director of public health in Coventry, said: 'The preliminary post mortem results have revealed a serious underlying medical condition which was likely to have caused death.
'We are awaiting further test results which will take some time. However indications are that it was most unlikely that the HPV vaccination was the cause of death.'
The prospect of a rogue batch of vaccine that had been contaminated in some way is also under investigation.
Last night Bristol's PCT said it had quarantined some supplies after finding they were from the Coventry batch.
Havering in East London suspended its programme for a day while it checked the vaccine. Jabs will resume again tomor
The devastated parents of schoolgirl Natalie Morton have paid tribute to their 'precious daughter'.
Natalie, 14, died in hospital on Monday just hours after she was given the Cervarix cervical cancer vaccine at school.
Her divorced parents Elaine and John Morton said they were too shocked to speak about her death, but issued a statement. They said: 'We would ask for time and privacy now to mourn a precious daughter, sister and grand-daughter.'
Natalie's stepfather Andrew
Bullock said the family had been overwhelmed by 'raw grief'. He said: 'We are
struggling to come to terms with her death and everyone is clearly very upset.
At the moment we don't know what to think.
'There is no proved link with the vaccine and we're keeping an open mind until the investigation results come out.'
Natalie and her sister Abigail, 17, lived with their 35-year-old mother, an auxiliary nurse, and Mr Bullock in a semi-detached home on the outskirts of Coventry.
Neighbour Marlene Kane, 63, said: 'She was a really lovely girl from a deeply religious family.
'So many teenagers these days are impolite bullies but Natalie was kind and would always offer to help. She will be misse
Schools in Portsmouth and Lincolnshire also temporarily suspended their programmes.
The NHS in the north east warned of delays in some areas as replacement doses were ordered to replace withdrawn batches.
The vaccine protects against the sexually-transmitted HPV virus, which caused 70 per cent of cervical cancer deaths. Its supporters say it will save 700 lives a year.
Take-up last year was more than 80 per cent - around the level needed for general immunity although fewer girls this year have been having it.
Robert Music, director of cervical cancer charity Jo's Trust, said it was 'bound to be a worry that numbers will go down.'
'We would urge parents not to panic as a result of this. Well over one million doses of the vaccine have been given and it has a good safety profile. I think it's important the programme continues.'
Supporters point out that the chance of having a life-threatening adverse reaction to the vaccine is less than a million to one.
So far, 1.4million girls have received the cervarix vaccine in a national programme.
So far more than 4,600 adverse reactions - ranging from rashes to convulsions and even paralysis - have been recorded.
Yesterday mothers across the country vowed not to let their daughters have the jab.
One wrote on the Mumsnet website: 'I am generally very provaccination but am feeling a bit wobbly about this one now. My daughter is due to have it soon.'
And another mother vowed: 'My daughter will not be a guinea pig.'
Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts said: 'Parents are naturally cautious until they work out what has happened.
'I would think that at least in the short term, take up will fall, because
parents are having wobbles who would have been happy to have allowed their
daughters to have the vaccine last week.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1216942/Cervical-cancer-vaccine-programme-chaos-death-schoolgirl-14-hours-jab.html#ixzz0SZlWpjMn