Mum's turmoil as flu jab gives son Alex (6) sleeping disease
PLIGHT: Mairead battles to help other sufferers
A DUBLIN mum has spoken of her shock after her six-year-old son was stricken with a chronic sleep disorder after getting the flu vaccination.
Alex Lawless is one of at least 16 children here who have been treated for the disabling condition since receiving the Pandemrix jab.
Little Alex, from Rathgar, in Dublin was vaccinated early last year and now suffers from extreme drowsiness every three or four hours throughout the day.
His mother Mairead was pregnant during the swine flu outbreak in 2009 and was given the flu injection. She was also advised to have her family immunised.
After Alex was given the vaccine he started to sleep a lot during the day.
At first Mairead put it down to the fact that a young cousin had been visiting from the US and the pair would stay up late playing. "But when his cousin went home, Alex started to sleep a lot during the day. The afternoon sleeps persisted for two or three hours a day and it was difficult to wake him and by the end of April, I was very worried."
Mairead took her son to the GP and a series of blood tests showed no abnormality. She was still not happy and went to a paediatrician.
"At that stage his behaviour had started to change. Normally he was a very gentle child, but he was becoming irritable, cranky, aggressive. It was disturbing."
It was only when Mairead saw an article about a little girl who developed narcolepsy after the Pandemrix vaccine that "suddenly everything fell into place". Last August, after a lumbar puncture, Alex's condition was officially diagnosed.
The Irish Medicines Board says it has received 16 reports with clinical information "which confirms a diagnosis of narcolepsy in individuals who were vaccinated with Pandemrix". In the meantime Mairead has become part of a new support group SOUND (Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder) which will be officially launched on Saturday at Bewley's Hotel in Newlands Cross, Dublin, at 2.30pm.
The group believes there could be as many 22 children who have developed the disorder. Mairead says she is taking legal advice.
SOUND can contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.