Patients’ anger after they are unable to opt out of swine flu vaccine despite fears of side effects

Dees Illustration

Jo MacFarlane
The Daily Mail

Patients’ groups have expressed anger over this year’s seasonal flu jab programme because people are unable to opt out of having the swine flu vaccine.

The H1N1 vaccine will be the dominant of three flu strains included in the shot, meaning  millions of elderly and vulnerable patients will get it automatically.

Yet many people refused to have the swine flu vaccine when it was offered last year because of fears it  may cause serious side effects.

The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that Government experts are examining a possible association between the H1N1 swine flu jab and the paralysing nerve disease Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

The vaccine has also been linked to fevers in young children, temporary paralysis and narcolepsy.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘We are very disappointed that patients are not being given the opportunity to choose for themselves whether they wish to take the swine flu vaccine as part of their winter flu vaccine.

‘Some may not want the swine flu vaccine and this may mean they would also miss out on their winter flu jab. This seems to go completely against the new initiative from the Government which states that in the NHS there will be “No decision about me without me” for patients and that there will be a large emphasis on patient choice.

There does not seem to be any patient choice involved here – either patients have both vaccines or no vaccine.’ Each year the World Health Organisation considers which strains of flu will be dominant in winter.


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