A 10-year-old boy who developed narcolepsy from swine flu vaccine won £120,000 (nearly $175,000) in damages after a six-year legal bout. In 2010, Josh Hadfield received a Pandemrix vaccine and in three weeks developed narcolepsy, a condition that made him fall asleep almost every five minutes regardless of activity.
Apart from making him fall asleep even during meal times, physical activities such as walking or swimming, narcolepsy also caused him to have seizures when he laughs. At first, the government didn't want to settle via the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme, indicating that Josh was not "severely disabled." The mother, 45-year-old Caroline Hadfield, fought fervently for years and finally won the legal battle.
"It's a huge relief and it will help secure Josh's future. It's just a shame we had to jump through this amount of hoops to get this far," said Caroline.
During the 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic in the UK, Pandemrix was the most popular vaccine used. Nearly a million British children aged six months to 5 years old were given the vaccine.
Josh also received GlaxoSmithKline's H1N1 influenza vaccine in 2009 that triggered his narcolepsy. He also suffered a condition called cataplexy that affected his muscle control. His condition and medication contributed to his massive weight gain.
His mother said that prior the vaccination, 4-year-old Josh was healthy and energetic. Two weeks post-vaccination, Caroline noticed that the boy was getting more and more tired. Three weeks later, Josh was sleeping for up to 19 hours a day. Soon, Josh started having troubles when walking.
Several studies linked the Pandemrix vaccine to narcolepsy in young children across Sweden, Finland and Ireland. Findings revealed that the injection increased narcolepsy risk by tenfold, placing Pandemrix off service.
Suzanne Williams, the family's lawyer, said they had to convince the court that Josh was 60 percent disabled or more. Based on Josh's current symptoms, the court concluded that the boy was 72 percent disabled.
Caroline said Josh's condition already showed improvement. The boy is starting to cope but he still sleeps up to two times while in school. Caroline added that Josh had to work harder due to missed lessons. Now in his Year Six, Josh is scheduled to take his SATS this year.