Tuesday, August 25, 2009



INJECTION: Children will get the injection before it has been fully tested

Friday August 14,2009
By Martyn Brown

Children and babies with underlying health conditions will get the new swine flu vaccine before it has even passed clinical trials, it emerged last night.

Fears were raised the drug is being rushed through before it has been properly tested on vulnerable groups such as babies, putting lives at risk.

The Department of Health confirmed last night that none of the 900 children taking part in safety tests are believed to be under three but babies with health problems will be among the first to get the vaccine.

A spokeswoman said: “The vaccine is being fast-tracked through clinical trials but it is not going to be used before it is licensed.

“The clinical trials will be conducted as swiftly as possible but priority groups will start to receive the vaccine after it is licensed but before the end of the trials.

“There are 900 children in the Health Protection Agency trials in Bristol, Southampton and Hertfordshire and 300 adults are volunteering in Leicester.”

The concerns follow reports that youngsters prescribed anti-viral drug Tamiflu have suffered side effects worse than swine flu itself. Dr Richard Halvorsen, a children’s immunisation expert, said: “The testing is being rushed through faster than any vaccine testing programme in history, yet it’s not long enough to really see whether it’s safe and effective.

“Do we really need a mass vaccination programme for an illness which is relatively mild in most people and has caused fewer deaths than seasonal flu?”

The Government announced yesterday that in October people aged six months to 65 in conventional at-risk groups for normal seasonal flu, such as those with diabetes or heart disease, will be given the vaccine.

They will be followed by all pregnant women. Those over 65 in conventional at-risk groups will also be eligible. Heroin addicts on methodone, who suffer from weakened immune systems, will also be at the front of the queue for the jabs.

Some 54.6 million doses of vaccine are planned to be delivered by December. Those eligible will need to have two doses.

Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said the immunisation was going through similar safety testing as seasonal flu vaccine.

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