14 Aug (SANEVAX) – Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a severe, complex, acquired illness with numerous symptoms related mainly to the dysfunction of the brain, gastro-intestinal, immune, endocrine and cardiac systems. Our family had no idea how familiar we would become with this particular disorder after vaccinating our 15-year-old daughter with Cervarix to ‘protect her’ from cervical cancer.
By Carol Green
When Katie received the Cervarix vaccinations in 2009, she was 15 years old and in her GCSE year at Hanley Castle High School. She was doing very well at school, achieving good grades and hoped eventually to go to university. Prior to the vaccination, she was extremely fit, playing regional rugby, attending a High Performance Academy for under 18 Girls’ Rugby in Bristol and trials for selection for England’s Under 18 Girls’ Rugby. She also played Girls’ County Cricket.
IMMEDIATE EFFECT OF THE 2nd CERVARIX VACCINATION:
The next morning, Katie had to be woken up by us as she had over-slept. She felt very groggy, nauseous and dizzy. She had even wet the bed! Although she could still eat at this time, she felt sick whenever she did. She also had an enormous, red lump at the site of the vaccination – about the size of a half-boiled egg (this was about 3 times the size of lump after the first vaccination). All these symptoms appeared on the vaccination leaflet, so we assumed Katie would just recover.
Unfortunately, when she struggled to school the following week, she deteriorated further. She had such severe vertigo that she could hardly walk. Her eyes could not focus (especially when she tried to read), she was only able to eat a tiny amount of pureed food as she felt so nauseous and she was extremely fatigued. At this point we went to our GP who sent her straight to hospital. Despite extensive tests, they could find no cause, so Katie was sent home.
A diagnosis of ME/CFS was finally confirmed by a consultant of immunology and infectious diseases in 2011.
THE LASTING EFFECTS OF THE VACCINATION
Katie’s life has been severely affected by the ME/CFS. She was house-bound – for the first 3 months at least, she could barely walk and could only eat foods if they had been liquidised, for at least 5 months. She had so little energy, that she was resting most of the day and sleeping for several hours each day. Katie has suffered off and on with various, unexplained pains – in joints, in her abdomen, migraines that she never had previously. She had a very bad spell during January and February 2011 where she had extreme insomnia and was utterly exhausted – not able to do anything!
Katie is now physically able to do more than she could immediately after the vaccination, such as gentle walking or shopping. But if she does too much, she is tired over the next day or so. She has tried to go back to school (HanleyCastle 6th Form), but found it too much to cope with. She finds it hard to concentrate, difficult to recall specific words and when she is doing anything mentally challenging it really tires her out. Finally, after her third attempt to return to 6th Form in 2012, her GP recommended that she stop after only two weeks because she was so ill again.
At the moment, she is claiming Employment Support Allowance, however, the recent medical assessment by the DWP decided that she had no medical reason not to work despite support from her GP. We have since appealed and will now have to go to a tribunal.
We also submitted a claim for Vaccine Damage Compensation which was also rejected. We are still in the process of submitting an appeal which was delayed as the solicitor that was working for us decided he could not prove the necessary causation (despite the temporal link and the letter from our GP). Feeling totally inadequate to pursue this matter alone, we met with our local MP, Harriet Baldwin.