Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is a rare but serious side effect of the flu shot in which the body attacks its own nerves, resulting in muscle weakness or even paralysis. It occurs in about 1 person per million flu vaccines. Victims may be eligible for compensation through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
Need a Texas Flu Shot Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
Flu Shot and Guillain-Barré Syndrome
Influenza (“the flu”) is a contagious disease caused by a virus that infects the nose, lungs, and throat. Because the flu can be deadly, health officials recommend a flu shot for everyone over 6 months old. Flu shots are believed to cause one case of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) per million people who are vaccinated. The risk of GBS is much lower than the risk of the flu.
1976 H1N1 Flu Shot Linked to Over 500 Cases of GBS
In 1976, two Army recruits in New Jersey tested positive for swine flu. The strain (H1N1) was very similar to the one that cause a flu pandemic in 1918 that spread very quickly, killing millions of people. After more than 200 soldiers tested positive, health officials decided to mass-vaccinate the American public against the virus.
About 532 cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) were reported after more than 45 million people were vaccinated. In December 1976, health officials stopped giving people the vaccine due to a possible risk of GBS. The elevated risk of GBS associated with the 1976 flu shot was estimated at one additional case per 100,000 people vaccinated.
Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was established in the 1980s to help victims of vaccine injuries, while shielding vaccine-makers from lawsuits that might discourage development of new vaccines. Funded by a $0.75 excise tax on all vaccines, the program has paid out more than $3.2 billion to thousands of people who were injured.
What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome?
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is caused when the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nerves. The body destroys myelin, which is a protective covering around the nerves that speeds up transmission of signals. In the general population, GBS affects about one person in 100,000. It usually occurs a few days or weeks after a vaccine, viral infection, or surgery. Adults over 50 years old are more likely to develop GBS, and complications are usually more serious.
What Causes Guillain-Barré Syndrome?
No one knows what causes GBS, but the fact that so many cases occur after vaccines is suspicious. It is possible that proteins in some viruses may be the same as those found in myelin, which causes the immune system to accidentally attack its own nerves after developing antibodies to attack the virus.
Symptoms & Complications
The symptoms of GBS can progress over hours, days, or weeks, but but patients experience severe muscle weakness within three weeks. The symptoms start with tingling, “pins and needles,” and progressive muscle weakness in the legs that can eventually spread to the arms and upper body. Reflexes such as knee-jerks are usually lost. These symptoms can potentially become increasingly severe until paralysis occurs. In rare cases, GBS interferes with breathing, blood pressure, and heart-rate, causing death.
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