HC Deb 12 March 2003 vol 401 cc339-40W
Sue Doughty

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether his Department is taking steps to monitor the long-term effects of flu vaccines on the mental health of those inoculated; and if he will make a statement; [100057]

(2) what information he has received on the side effects of flu vaccines; when these were notified to GPs; and if he will make a statement; [100055]

(3) what research he has evaluated on possible links between flu vaccines and (a) Alzheimer's disease and (b) other brain function impairing conditions; and if he will make a statement. [100056]

Ms Blears

Influenza is a serious disease that can be fatal, particularly in the elderly, and influenza vaccines have a significant benefit in helping to reduce morbidity and mortality from the disease. As with any vaccine or medicine, influenza vaccines are not without possible side-effects in some recipients. The known side-effects of influenza vaccines are listed in the product information available to general practitioners and other health professionals and available in the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries compendium of data sheets and summaries of product characteristics and the electronic medicines compendium.

The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) and the Committee of Safety of Medicines keeps the safety of all vaccines under continual review. The MCA is not aware of any evidence to support reported claims that immunisation with influenza vaccines may lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease or other related mental health disorders.

Some neurological conditions have been rarely reported in association with influenza vaccines and these are listed in the product information. These are neuralgia, convulsions, encephalomyelitis, neuritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome. These rare risks are far outweighed by the benefits of influenza vaccine in protecting against influenza virus infection and its complications.

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