It has come to almost be viewed as a rite of passage. As children go back to school in the fall, we know it is also that time of year to think about and get our annual flu vaccine. For the most part, the flu season starts about that time but actually, according to the Centers for Disease Control, incidence peaks in January or later. We know that the vaccine can prevent us from contracting the flu but can the injection impact our health in any other way? Specifically, can the flu vaccine cause sleep disorders?
A study conducted in the United Kingdom discovered a link. A couple of years ago when the annual vaccine, which protected against the swine (H1N1) flu, was administered across Europe, an increased incidence of a narcolepsy in children was discovered. This disease is defined by the individual experiencing “sleep attacks” whereby he or she is overcome by an incredible urge to sleep as well as sudden loss of muscle control and tone known as cataplexy. These attacks can occur without warning but the hallmark of narcolepsy is daytime sleepiness.
The British researchers unveiled the connection between 800 children in Finland, Sweden, Norway, France and Ireland developing this sleep disorder from the flu or influenza vaccine known as Pandemrix. This particular vaccine was never administered in the United States. Instead, Americans were protected against the H1N1 virus with the Tamiflu vaccine. Recommended for individuals older than 6 months, this particular flu vaccine was given to nearly 30 million people across Europe.
The link was confirmed in a Finnish study when narcolepsy rates in children were analyzed before and after the administration of Pandemrix. The group demonstrated that prior to this particular flu vaccine only 0.31 children in 100,000 were diagnosed with narcolepsy as opposed to 5.3 children in 100,000 after Pandemrix.
What is the take-away message from the studies? Even though the flu vaccine can protect people from contracting a strain of influenza, there is the potential for adverse side effects. If you experience any unusual symptoms post flu vaccine, it is important to contact your physician.
If you believe that you might have a sleep disorder such as narcolepsy or another sleep disorder, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation.