By Jo Macfarlane
One person has died after being given the Government’s new swine flu vaccination.
It is the first death to be linked to the new Pandemrix jab and comes on top of a further 1,329 reports of suspected adverse reactions in just four weeks.
But experts investigating the death say it was likely to have been caused by the patient’s ‘significant underlying health conditions’ rather than the vaccine itself.
The most frequent reactions to Pandemrix are pain and swelling at the injection site, vomiting, dizziness and fever.
There have been two cases of anaphylactic shock, one child experienced arthritis and two had seizures, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said. A link to the jab has not been established.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘There are no concerns about these reports.’
By Daniel Martin
Mothers-to-be ‘are refusing swine flu jab’ over safety fears
Millions of people are shunning the swine flu jab over fears about its safety, a survey of GPs suggests.
It found that fewer than half of those offered the vaccination are taking it up – with pregnant women the most likely to say no.
Anyone in ‘at risk’ groups between the ages of six months and 65 years – 11 million people in all – are being offered the jab. But doctors said that just 46 per cent were taking it.
The survey, in Pulse magazine, revealed many believed the virus is just too mild to warrant having the vaccine.
But last night the Department of Health said it was vital that everyone who is offered the vaccine should have it, because swine flu can be deadly for a small number of people.
Even if they did not fall ill, they could pass the disease on to someone else who is more vulnerable.
The survey of 107 GPs, published in Pulse magazine, follows others which suggest many doctors and nurses were also forgoing the vaccine.
In the latest poll, doctors estimated the take-up rate among their patients was 46 per cent. Only 37 per cent believed they would vaccinate more than half of their at-risk patients.
Dr Chris Udenze, who works in Nottingham, said: ‘In all the pregnant women we’ve offered it to, I think only about one in 20 has agreed.’
A GP in Kensington said he was encountering ‘considerable scepticism’ from pregnant women. And Dr Sharon Shmueli, a GP in Swindon, said fewer than 25 per cent of pregnant patients at her practice had chosen to be vaccinated.
The DoH has contracts with two major drugs firms to provide enough vaccine for the entire population.
Richard Hoey, editor of Pulse, said: ‘Many patients, like a substantial number of doctors, are unconvinced there is sufficient evidence that swine flu vaccination is safe and necessary.