Children should no longer be given a widely-used flu vaccine over concerns it is linked to a rare sleep disorder, the European drug regulator has recommended.
The European Medicine Agency said that Pandemrix should only be given to the under-20s if they are at risk of contracting swine flu and alternative jabs are not available.
Its announcement comes after studies showed that young people who were given the vaccine were at increased risk of developing narcolepsy, which causes sufferers to fall asleep unexpectedly.
But the British drug watchdog said it would not ban Pandemrix in the young and pointed out that the country’s stocks expire in a few months anyway.
Pandemrix, manufactured by the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, was given to 30million people across Europe after the outbreak of swine flu – the H1N1 strain of the virus – that started in Mexico early in 2009.