TorontoSun The provincial health ministry is investigating 17 cases in which people fell seriously ill after the receipt of the H1N1 flu vaccine.
Andrew Morrison, spokeman for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, said the cases include four vaccine recipients who came down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) — a rare neurological condition characterized by sudden weakness or parlysis. Another 13 people came down with anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction which can include symptoms of anaphylactic shock, rapid heartbeat, itchiness in the skin and difficulty breathing.
Donna Hartlen, a 39-year-old Markham mother, was diagnosed with GBS two weeks after receiving a shot of the vaccine.
She is partially paralyzed on the right side of her face. She is no longer able to properly chew food and her right eye is bandaged because she can no longer blink to protect it.
Don Gibson, 80, also of Markham and developed GBS, said he received the same batch of H1N1 flu vaccine two days before Hartlen from the same Markham doctor’s office. Gibson also blames the H1N1 vaccine for his GBS infection.
Morrison said there are measures in place to watch for severe allergic reactions following the administering of vaccines. Health Canada has pulled a batch of the swine flu vaccine — produced by GlaxoSmithKline Inc. — after it appeared that the batch may have caused higher rates of severe allergic reactions than other lots.
No one knows why GBS affects some people and not others.