Influenza vaccines were first noted to be associated with Guillain Barre Syndrome during the 1976 swine flu epidemic, when it was found that the risk of getting paralysis from GBS was increased 4 to 8 times for people who took the vaccine. This increased risk lasted for 6 weeks following the vaccination. GBS is an autoimmune disorder in which the nervous system is damaged with resultant tingling, muscle weakness and paralysis. By stimulating the immune system with vaccines to fight future infections, some people end up with an imune system that attacks them by mistake. More modern vaccines have undergone attempts to make them safer. A recent study confirms that GBS still occurs following influenza vaccines with 2 people over the age of 50 developing GBS for every one million people vaccinated.
GBS is a peripheral neuropathy with acute onset of rapidly developing motor weakness and areflexia (loss of reflexes). It is typically tirggered by an external stimulus such as a viral infection. Vaccines try to stimulate the immune system with weakened viral antigens and proteins so that when the virus tries to infect the body there are antibodies already existing to prevent disease. Accordingly, it is not surprising that they can cause the body to develop GBS because it stimulates the body in a similar way as does a virus.
Although the risk of getting vaccine related GBS is very small, for the 2 in a million people who get it, it is a devastating and permanent injury. The National Vaccine Compensation Fund is a no-fault, industry funded program that provides compensation to people who have been injured by vaccinations, including those who develop GBS from influenza vaccinations. Whenever a severe vaccination reaction occurs, individuals need to contact experienced Vaccine Fund attorneys who can present their claim to the fund in an effort to provide some compensation to assist them. Britcher Leone & Roth has assisted many people who have been injured by vaccinations in obtaining compensation from the fund for covered vaccines in an effort to mitigate their injuries.