It’s an influenza vaccination program’s worst nightmare. In Israel, four elderly and chronically ill patients have died of cardiac arrest within days of receiving influenza vaccinations:
Israel suspended flu vaccinations nationwide on Sunday after four men who had been inoculated died in the past week, the Health Ministry said.
“I ordered to stop the vaccinations until things are made clear,” Israeli Health Minister Yacov Ben Yizri told reporters.
“We have started to investigate everything related to this case,” he said. The ministry said it had asked the French firm Sanofi-Aventis, which manufactured the vaccine, to conduct its own investigation.
Hospital officials said all the men were aged 52 to 76 and had suffered from ailments including diabetes and heart disease. (Reuters Alertnet)
As we’ve noted here before, sudden deaths occur in the usual course of events and when tens of thousands of people, predominantly elderly, are being vaccinated, sudden deaths in temporal proximity to the vaccination are bound to occur. Still, the facts cannot help but be worrisome, even if you are aware of the possibility of coincidence. In this case three of the four received vaccine from the same lot and at the same health center. It would be rash to dismiss this out of hand, even though there is no obvious reason why an influenza vaccine could cause this kind of fatal outcome.
Meanwhile the worried well are streaming into the health care system:
Hagit Mezig, whose 58 year old mother Aliza Ben Shevo was vaccinated a week ago came worried to the HMO branch.
Speaking with Ynet she said: “I came here to see how we can arrange tests for her. I’m concerned and anxious, I plan to bring my mother in for a thorough exam. This is the first year that she’s gotten the vaccination and you can never know if the effects might not be long-term. Worried relatives keep calling me, wanting to know if everything’s ok.”
Haim Levy, a 58 year old heart failure patient, was vaccinated last week at the Kiryat Gat branch.
“I heard about the case,” he said, “and came here but the branch director spoke with me and told me that there is nothing to worry about, that there’s no connection. But I intend to run down to the hospital for an exam because I’m a high-risk patient. (YNet)
A vaccinaton program’s worst nightmare.