Authority tells staff how to handle complications from vaccination

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 January, 2010, 12:00am

The Hospital Authority is telling its medical staff how to handle the most severe side effect of flu vaccination, a guideline shows.

The staff guideline, which targets patients who appear at the authority's hospitals or clinics after receiving vaccination for seasonal flu or swine flu in the past 120 days, was released yesterday.

A government expert panel on adverse reactions to the vaccine has said the condition of a 58-year-old swine flu vaccine recipient was compatible with Guillain-Barre syndrome, the most severe side effect of vaccination, which damages the nervous system and can result in muscle weakness and even paralysis.

The man, a private cardiologist, was vaccinated on December 24 and felt pain in his legs four days later. He was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital on January 2, suffering from weakness in his legs. His condition was listed as stable last night.

Since the man's case was reported, there has been a drop-off in the number of people getting the flu jab.

The purpose of the guideline is to tell medical staff and management how to define and handle post-vaccination weakness (PVW) and suspected cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

It said defining the syndrome would require a clinical diagnosis by a neurologist after inpatient assessment. The guideline also says to admit all patients who fulfil the criteria of PVW.

The guideline says when suspected post-vaccination GBS is diagnosed, a neurologist should report the case to the Centre for Health Protection.

Accident and emergency departments are to report all PVW cases to the authority's major incident control centre. Ward nurses-in-charge should also contact a neurologist for all PVW admissions.