Doctor to sue DOH over vaccinated son’s death

CDC Director-General Steve Kuo said the DOH would not alter its H1N1 immunization plan, but officials were sorry they hadn’t been able to help the boy

(TAIPEI TIMES)   A physician whose seven-year-old son died 32 days after receiving an H1N1 flu vaccine said yesterday that he intends to sue the Department of Health (DOH).

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Steve Kuo (郭旭崧) said yesterday that the CDC respects the Taichung County doctor’s decision but the Department of Health had no plan to change the nationwide influenza H1NI immunization program.

“It is still safer for you to get the shot,” Kuo said. “There is also no evidence at present to link the boy’s death to the vaccine.”

Kuo said the boy’s father called the 1922 H1N1 vaccination consultation hotline on Dec. 2 after his son developed a high fever and a skin rash. The boy had received an H1N1 shot on Nov. 19.

Kuo said Deputy Department of Health Minister Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) and CDC experts immediately held an emergency telephone conference with the child’s father to offer help, but the boy died on Monday.

“We are all sorry we were unable to help,” Kuo said.

After preliminary discussions, the experts concluded that the boy’s death was unrelated to the vaccination, Kuo said, adding that an immune system problem was a possible cause of death.

“The boy’s parents are welcome to request an investigation into the case to allow experts to make a more comprehensive, independent judgment,” Kuo said.

An inoculation program for people considered at high risk of contracting swine flu began on Nov. 1 and the nationwide immunization program began on Dec. 12 at 2,584 clinics and hospitals and 354 DOH vaccination stations.

Problems and side effects that have been reported so far from the vaccine include deaths among elderly recipients and dizziness among students. These have dissuaded some from getting vaccinated.

Health officials said the reports of dizziness caused some parents, to withdraw their permission for their children to receive the shots.

“A total of 331 cases of side effects from the vaccines has been reported, but all the symptoms were temporary,” Kuo said. “These cases will not affect our vaccination policy.”

The total number of hospitalized H1N1 patients in Taiwan since the outbreak began reached 817 yesterday, Kuo said.

Thirty-five people in Taiwan have died from the disease.

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