Flu Vaccine Linked to 800 Cases of Narcolepsy in Kids

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shotSo this flu outbreak is a serious bummer, isn't it? People are getting sick. But there's plenty of vaccines around if you know where to look, and even if they make you feel kind of crummy for a while, they seem to be working. It could be sooooo much worse. Want to hear how much worse?

Let's talk about the H1N1 ("swine flu") vaccine being used overseas. It's been tied to children getting narcolepsy. You know, that incurable sleep disorder? Around 800 kids in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe have come down with narcolepsy and doctors believe the H1N1 vaccine is to blame.

Just in case you wanted to know, narcolepsy isn't just about suddenly falling asleep at random moments. WebMD lists symptoms including excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden loss of muscle tone after laughing or a similar activity, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis, where you can't move your body for the first few minutes after you wake up. In other words, a total nightmare. Those poor kids!

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And this is the part where those of us who are suspicious about vaccines to begin with nod our heads and say, YOU SEE? Okay, I'm not that suspicious about vaccines. My son had the whole battery of required vaccines when he was a baby and toddler. I fought my doctor on the chicken pox shot, but she won in the end. I've been holding out on the flu vaccine because we have a history of having robust immune systems and we're taking special care of ourselves. (Want to hear more about my magic chicken feet soup? No?)

Still, I feel like in a huge country like the U.S., they're not going to release a vaccine to the vast population unless they're positive it's safe. Right?!? I guess? I hope so, anyway. So what happened with this H1N1 vaccine?

Well, pharmaceutical execs there swear they're going to "get to the bottom" of this disaster. But it's kind of good to know that the European version was made with a booster called adjuvant, which is not allowed in the U.S. Meanwhile, doctors really want to figure out this narcolepsy epidemic ASAP because they're worried that people will stop getting the H1N1 vaccine, causing that flu to spread. Ah, the thrills of disease control! What a headache.

Do you ever worry about the safety of vaccines or do you think they're pretty safe?

 

Image via blakespot/Flickr

cold & flu, illness, swine flu