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Vaccine death: maker quizzed

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Evening telegraph and post
31 October 2006

The Procurator Fiscal’s office in Dundee, investigating the death of a woman following her devastating reaction to a flu jab, is seeking answers from the German pharmaceuticals company that made the vaccine (writes Bruce Robbins).

Depute fiscal Kirsty McGowan said the firm has been asked if it is aware of any other adverse reactions to the vaccine.

Dundee woman Sylvia Thomson suffered a fatal reaction to the injection in November last year and died a few weeks later, on December 2,.

The former PE teacher, who’d been bothered by an intermittent chest infection, asked her GP for the jab as a precaution. A week later, she was taken into hospital suffering from encephalitis — swelling in her brain.

Hospital officials have since admitted that other people may be predisposed to a similar reaction.

Mrs Thomson’s husband, Robert, has been pushing for a fatal inquiry into his 56-year-old wife’s death and is critical of the progress the fiscal’s department has made into the investigation.

However, Ms McGowan told the Evening Telegraph she would be taking the matter further if she didn’t hear back from the company in two to three weeks.

She added, “We have received a fax from one of the vaccine companies saying they have referred our inquiry back to the parent company in Germany. Solvay Pharm-aceuticals is German-owned and has a base in Holland. They have to provide us with a full answer and that couldn’t be done by the distributors in Britain.

“We’ve identified the batch numbers of the vaccine concerned and are waiting for a report from the company. We are looking for other adverse reactions to the vaccine and the company will have all those details.”

Ms McGowan rejected Mr Thomson’s claims the matter hadn’t been given a high enough priority and said she had updated him at the beginning of October.”

Mr Thomson said he believed the fiscal’s department had spent a lot of time speaking to Mrs Thomson’s GP and a doctor at Ninewells Hospital when they should have been on to the drugs company straight away.

“There must be a Government body that approved the vaccine for use in the UK and the fiscal could have contacted them straight away to find out what tests had been carried out on it before it was made available.

“There was a report out recently saying that it couldn’t be proved that ‘flu vaccines do any good. Here we are heading into the vaccination season and we still don’t know if this particular vaccine is going to stop people getting the ‘flu or end up killing others.”

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