Reply To: Another vaccine victim added to the long list
Jim, I recognize that you have done a great deal to become well-informed on GBS, but the information you give here is not accurate. It is true that GBS after a vaccination for influenze is now included in the vaccine injury compensation program (a recent addition, I think), but this does not constitute recognition that there is a causal relationship between the vaccine and GBS. The position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is pretty much what is has always been: that the cause of a particular case of GBS generally cannot be determined (except in cases of outbreaks due to Campylobacter jejuni), and that if there is a causal relationship with the flu vaccine, it is too low to measure. The risk of getting GBS is the same regardless of vaccination. Here is a link to the CDC on the subject:
The purpose of the vaccine compensation program is threefold: 1. to encourage reporting of possible harm caused by vaccines (whether actual or not); 2. to promote vaccination; 3. to avoid litigation. It is a no-fault insurance program. For listed circumstances, it is not necessary to prove that a causal relationship exists.
The National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine) periodically reviews research on the effects of vaccines. There position on this question has not changed. Their conclusions are:
Conclusion 6.10: The evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between influenza vaccine and GBS.
Conclusion 6.11: The evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between influenza vaccine and CIDP.
I’m glad that it is now easier for those afflicted with GBS to be compensated under VAERS — any way that people can get financial help with this expensive disease is good — but I object to misinformation which tends to discourage people from getting vaccinated when appropriate. We used to have a few hysterical anti-vaccination types on this website attacking vaccines of all kinds, and I am happy that they seem to have gone into hiding.
Influenza is a dangerous disease. This season is an especially bad one. In California alone, 27 people under age 65 have died from influenza-related disease. This is at least five times the usual incidence. I personally have been vaccinated for seasonal influenza every year since my illness (seven years ago) without ill effect. I do this for my own protection, but also because I visit hospitals and nursing homes and want to avoid carrying the virus to vulnerable people, and because I know from the extensive research on the subject that the risk of GBS is not increased by vaccination.