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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 Government’s 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 be treated.

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 children’s 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 proved.

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’ virus.

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 for safety.’

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.


Reference Source 231
October 19, 2009
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