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15-year-old settles case with State and pharmaceutical company over side-effects from swine flu vaccine

Ben Blackwell from Ratoath in Co Meath won damages in the High Court today.

A 15-YEAR-OLD boy has settled his case against the HSE, the Minister for Health, and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline over side-effects he developed after receiving the swine flu vaccine.

Ben Blackwell from Ratoath in Co Meath won damages from the vaccine maker and the health service after he received the Pandemrix vaccine at school in February 2010 during the swine flu pandemic.

RTÉ report that the boy was later diagnosed with the sleep disorder narcolepsy and the auto-immune disease cataplexy, and suffers from exhaustion during the day, as well as sleep paralysis and hallucinations.

It’s also reported that the terms of the settlement have not been finalised, and are set to come before the High Court at a later date.

In a statement, Sound – a group for those affected by the vaccine – called on the State to offer similar settlements to all families affected by narcolepsy due to Pandemrix.

“We thank Ben Blackwell and his family for taking this case,” the group’s secretary Tadgh Kennedy said in a statement.

“We are very conscious that all families, regardless of their legal representation, should now be offered this settlement.”

Kennedy said that the State’s response to those affected by the vaccine’s side effects had been “painfully slow”, leading to a difficult and protracted process for the families involved.

“Sound is not anti-vaccination and High Court proceedings have never been our primary focus,” he added.

To date, more than 80 cases have been lodged before the courts in relation to Pandemrix.

Many people received the vaccine before its use was suspended in Ireland in 2011 after concerns were raised about negative side effects including a link with narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.

The British Medical Journal published an investigation last September which noted that serious safety concerns were raised in 2009, nearly two years before the vaccine’s use was stopped in Ireland.

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