SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The government has set aside €5m to compensate a group of seven to 11 people who were given the Pandemrix vaccine against Mexican flu and who may have developed narcolepsy as a result, the Volkskrant reported on Friday.
The vaccine, which is not the same as the annual flu jab, was given to around half a million children at the time of the flu outbreak in 2009.
It is rare for the state to come to a financial settlement with individuals about side effects because the vaccines are extensively tested, the paper said, adding that the fact that an amount has been set aside does not mean the state admits liability.
Studies into the occurrence of narcolepsy as a side-effect of the vaccine have proved contradictory. Narcolepsy is a debilitating disease that makes people fall asleep at odd moments and can weakens the muscles in moments of stress.
‘It is very difficult to prove if individual cases are the result of the vaccine,’ Agnes Kant, director of drug safety centre Lareb, told the paper. ‘But if you look at all the studies, there is a strong indication that in rare cases Pandemrix can play a role in the development of narcolepsy.’
In 2016 a 15-year-old boy in Britain who also had the vaccine and subsequently developed narcolepsy was awarded the equivalent of €163,000 in damages.
A health ministry spokesperson told the paper that nothing can be inferred about the amount given in individual compensation from the €5m stated in the health ministry budget.
But personal injury lawyers John Beer and Lucas Hogeling, who represent the families of the children who may have been affected, say it’s ‘remarkable’ the government mentioned an amount at all.
‘We are still talking to the state advocate and experts about how extensive the damage is. These are young people now, between 10 and 15 years old, some of whom are unable to work or study full-time. So that €5m could easily become €10m,’ they told the Volkskrant. (DutchNews)