The Winter 2010 flu vaccine drive  Finland  Narcolepsy

Health Official: Swine Flu Vaccinations for Children Possibly a Mistake

published today 04:40 PM, updated today 04:45 PM

Finland, YLE (Public broadcasting corporation):

The Chief Medical Officer of Finland's National Public Health Institute has conceded that children and young people should possibly not have been vaccinated against swine flu. Dr Terhi Kilpi told the Všli-Suomi newspaper group's Sunday newspaper supplement that the vaccine perhaps should not have been given to 5-20 year-olds.

Kilpi said that she would no longer recommend the vaccination for this age group. She added that if she had known of the potential consequences, she would have not inoculated 5-20 year-olds.

"A year ago, the current understanding was that the swine flu was a danger specifically for the young. At that time there was not yet any reason to suspect serious side effects to the vaccine," said Kilpi.

The vaccine is now suspected to be linked to an increase in the number of cases of narcolepsy affecting children and young people in Finland, Sweden and Iceland. In Finland, 54 children have been diagnosed with narcolepsy.

Even though it is under suspicion, the vaccine has been reintroduced in the UK where a new swine flu epidemic has caused the deaths of some 200 people.

Dr Kilpi added that the negative publicity surrounding the swine flu vaccine is not worrying.

"Most people understand that vaccinations prevent serious, fatal diseases. The benefits they provide outweigh the disadvantages many times over."

Finland's National Public Health Institute is to publish an interim report on the links between narcolepsy, the swine flu, and the vaccine this coming Tuesday.