New Overload Fears As
Swine Flu Jab Added To Routine Childhood Vaccines
The swine flu vaccine will be given to children at the same time
as routine jabs despite the fact there is no evidence the
combination is safe.
There are fears that children will be at risk of unknown side
effects because safety trials into using the jabs together have
yet to be carried out.
The plan has also added to concerns about overloading
young immune systems with multiple inoculations.
Government experts have ruled that all vaccinations including
those against measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis C, diphtheria,
whooping cough, polio, Hib disease and pneumococcal infection
can be given with the swine flu vaccine to children over
six months old.
The Governments Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation
(JCVI) decided that because the swine flu vaccine does not contain
a live virus, it can safely be given with other jabs.
The first wave of a national vaccination scheme against swine
flu is set to begin next week, with children who have underlying
health problems such as asthma and diabetes among the first to
The JCVI ruling means these high-risk youngsters
who are also due for routine jabs could now receive them along
with their swine flu vaccine.
Campaigners have already voiced concerns that the recommended
programme of more than 20 inoculations, including two doses of
the MMR injection, by the age of four puts too much strain on
childrens immune systems.
GP Dr Richard Halvorsen, medical director of the Babyjabs clinic
in Central London, said last night: There is not a shred
of evidence about the potential effects of combining all these
childhood jabs with the swine flu vaccine. They simply have not
had time to carry out tests.
The swine flu vaccine has been fast-tracked through normal licensing
procedures and the first volunteer children in a UK study received
their shots last week.
Neurologists have been warned by the Health Protection Agency
to look out for Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) where
paralysis of the breathing muscles can cause death by suffocation.
A mass vaccination programme against swine flu in the US in 1976
saw hundreds of GBS cases and 25 deaths, although a direct link
to the vaccine, which is different from the current jab, was never
Jackie Fletcher, of the campaign group Justice Awareness and
Basic Support, believes the move to combine vaccines is reckless.
She said: If there is a bad reaction for a child, how will
doctors be able to identify which vaccine component is to blame?
At a meeting in August, the JCVI stated that giving the swine
flu jab with other vaccines is safe because it contains a dead
But it advised that the flu injection be given in a different
limb from other jabs to minimise localised reactions such as swelling.
The Department of Health said last night: It is irresponsible
to suggest the UK would use a vaccine without careful consideration
of safety issues.
The swine flu vaccine will not interfere with other vaccines,
whether they are administered at the same time or not. Vaccines
would not be licensed if they were considered unsafe they
go through a rigorous licensing process and are carefully assessed
In September, a study based on research in British Columbia, Ontario
and Quebec, raised questions about whether getting a seasonal
flu shot would raise the risk of contracting H1N1.