Published Date: 26 July 2009
A swine flu vaccine produced in America during the last recorded outbreak of the virus in 1976 was linked to a rise in Guillain-Barre syndrome, a paralysing muscular disorder.
While there was no conclusive evidence that the jab caused the syndrome, 25 people subsequently died from the condition after the vaccination programme began, triggering mass panic.
In a separate development, the scale of the mass vaccination programme in Scotland has brought a warning that other routine immunisation programmes might have to be delayed.
The head of the NHS in Scotland has told health boards that the delivery of the vaccine to the country’s five million residents will be a challenge “unprecedented in scale and in scope”.
NHS Scotland chief executive Kevin Woods said that while boards should plan to deliver the routine seasonal flu and childhood vaccination programmes, this is “being kept under review”.
Due to the workload pressure on GP surgeries, healthcare staff may have to give the swine flu and the seasonal flu vaccine at the same time, and delay the childhood illnesses vaccination programme.
Meanwhile, Scot Sharon Pentleton, 26, was yesterday still “critically ill” in a Stockholm hospital after being flown there for specialist treatment. The mother of one from Ayrshire, who is expecting her second child, is suffering a rare, severe reaction after contracting the H1N1 swine flu virus and is undergoing a procedure whereby her blood is circulated outside her body. No beds were available in the UK for the procedure she needed.