Teenager damaged by swine flu vaccine wins High Court settlement

A 15-year-old boy who developed an incurable sleep disorder and a debilitating auto immune condition after being given a swine flu vaccine has won his settlement in the High Court ten years later.

Ben Blackwell of Ratoath, Co. Meath took the GlaxoSmithKline-produced vaccine in 2010 as part of a mass vaccination programme in schools, only to subsequently suffer the sleep disorder narcolepsy and an auto immune disease that can cause a collapse of muscle groups.

In his claim against the HSE and GlaxoSmithKline, Mr. Blackwell said there was a failure to fully inform people of the risks associated with the Pandemrix vaccine, particularly for children.

The High Court heard that the vaccine can, in rare circumstances, affect the part of the brain that controls sleepfulness, wakefulness and appetite.

The incurable condition had affected Mr. Blackwell’s work opportunities along with his personal life, the court heard, suffering from extreme exhaustion during the day and wakefulness, hallucinations and sleep paralysis at night.

80 more people could now have their cases resolved by the High Court after they too reported damaging side-effects from the vaccine.

The final terms of the settlement, made without admission of liability, have not been decided yet, but Dermot Gleeson SC, acting for Mr. Blackwell, said the figure would be 50 per cent of the value of the full claim before the court.

Gleeson said the Blackwells “believe in vaccination and do not want their son’s case to be seen as anti-vaccine”.

It is expected that supports such as childcare and medical cards will be covered into the future for those who suffer narcolepsy as a result of the injection.

GlaxoSmithKline was previously indemnified by the State to cover any adverse reactions to Pandemrix.

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