Final Report of the National Narcolepsy Study Steering Committee

19 April 2012

Dr James Reilly T.D., Minister for Health, today published a study commissioned by his Department to investigate a possible association between narcolepsy and the vaccine Pandemrix®. The study was carried out by an expert group led by Dr Darina O’Flanagan, Director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

The study found an increased risk of developing narcolepsy in the 5-19 years age group who had received the Pandemrix® vaccine compared with those who had not received that vaccine.

These results are very similar to those seen in Sweden and Finland with a clear increased risk evident from the available data. However, it is very unlikely that the vaccine alone would be sufficient to explain what has been observed. International experts agree that a number of factors are likely to have contributed to the increased risk and a number of international studies are continuing which should provide additional information.

The Department of Health, in conjunction with the Health Services Executive (HSE) and the Department of Education and Skills are working together to put in place necessary supports for those people affected by this condition. These will include health and educational supports.

Commenting on the report Minister Reilly said “This report is a start in understanding the association between the vaccine and narcolepsy. However, our main focus is on the people affected and their families. We are working to put in place assessment and supports that help the cope with this condition.”

Dr Darina O'Flanagan commented; "International experts agree that a number of factors are likely to have contributed to the increased risk of developing narcolepsy and further research is required to understand the exact causative mechanism.”

The Chief Medical Office, Dr Tony Holohan, emphasised the importance of vaccination for protecting peoples' health, saying “Vaccination is very safe and it is important that the current vaccination programmes continue to protect children and adults against the serious consequences caused by these preventable diseases. People can continue to have a high level of confidence in our vaccination programmes.”

ENDS

Note to Editors

You can access the full report at www.dohc.ie/publications/Nat_Narcolespy_Study_SC_Report.html

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