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Flu Vaccine Linked to 800 Cases of Narcolepsy in Kids

by Adriana Velez on January 22, 2013 at 6:06 PM

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!

More from The Stir: 5 Surprising Ways to Prevent This Year's Nasty Flu

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

Filed Under: cold & flu, illness, swine flu


  • ethan...


    January 22, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    I'm not anti-vaccine, in that I fully support the idea.

    However, I am concerned with how short of a time they are studied for safety before being given to the public. Especially in the cases of the Swine Flu scare.

  • Farme...
    -- Nonmember comment from


    January 22, 2013 at 6:45 PM
    I'm all for vaccines that have had significant time for studies and effects. Something that is made at most less than a year in advance- no thank you. I do not approve of the recommended vaccines. They are recommended to continue herd immunity, not with each individuals needs in mind. At risk groups, yes, but not for everyone
  • Angie...


    January 22, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    I am not all for vaccines... 

  • craft...


    January 22, 2013 at 7:51 PM
    Why would people need to keep getting the H1N1 vaccine anyway? Aren't we way past that?
  • Gretta
    -- Nonmember comment from


    January 22, 2013 at 7:53 PM
    GEEZ JUST WHAT I NEED. It's so FREAKING DIFFICULT to figure out the best thing to do. >:-(
  • the4m...


    January 22, 2013 at 8:13 PM
    I personally get my kids the "big disease" vaccines, that have been around for a long time. Like hepatitis, DtAP, and one other i cant recall off the top of my head. I do NOT get my kids any flu shots, ever, or an MMR vaccine. I got them all their 1st MMRs, and each of them had a bad reaction except my oldest. So my oldest is fully immunized, the rest are on delayed schedule, or only select shots.
  • Toya
    -- Nonmember comment from


    January 22, 2013 at 8:18 PM
    I am not against vaccines, but decided against the flu one this year. Then I got the flu. Lol.
  • tuffy...


    January 22, 2013 at 8:37 PM
    No more vax here, since the first MMR did what it did to my little. If you think narcolepsy from the flu jab is bad, read up on WTH Gardasil has done to children. It's appalling. Some previously perfectly healthy, active girls have died from Gardasil. The government can shove their pocket padding vaccines right up their asses, sideways.
  • Pando...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Pandora Apuzzo

    January 22, 2013 at 8:41 PM
    I am skeptical of the flu vaccines!! and scared of swine flu!! We have a dear friend that has been diagnosed with swine flu.
  • summe...


    January 22, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    This is old news. Why is it in the news again? Sweden pulled this vax, which is different from the ones used in other countries, and has been doing research to figure out why there was an increased risk of narcolepsy. This article is just scaremongering. Please cite more facts next time.

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