Sina (16 years old) gets compensation from the government for sleeping sickness after being vaccinated
Senna fell seriously ill after being vaccinated against swine flu. Now, 14 years later, he is being compensated financially by the government. Mother Jenny: “It’s not a confession, but we can shut it down.”
“I cried so hard when I got the message that we were being included in the settlement,” says Jenny, the mother of 16-year-old Sina. “The discharge was too big.”
Senna belonged to a small group of narcolepsy patients who received financial compensation from the Cabinet. Last Wednesday, Secretary of State Martin Van Ogen told the House of Representatives that the payment would be made. He does not want to say exactly how many children are involved and in what amounts, for privacy reasons. “I can’t mention the amount either. We don’t like money either, but we like the idea of Cena being able to support herself in the future,” says Jenny.
In his letter to Parliament, van Ogen wrote that it was not clear whether the children in question had developed narcolepsy through vaccination or whether there was some other reason for their illness. Scientists are still hesitant. Jenny finds it indigestible, as it has been clear to her for so long. “We are the victims of vaccination, and I’m sorry they didn’t realize it.”
In 2009, a new influenza virus spread around the world, the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. This flu was dangerous and potentially fatal. In a short period of time, nearly 5 million people in the Netherlands have been vaccinated against swine flu. Among them were more than 600,000 children between the ages of six months and four years who received the Pandemrix vaccine. So was Cinna, who was three years old at the time.
A few months after the vaccination, Senna continued to sleep and his muscles relaxed. During a break on the field, his legs collapsed. After many examinations, his parents were diagnosed: it turned out to be narcolepsy, a serious sleeping illness that will never go away. The disease completely changed the life of the family. For example, Senna never slept through the night, had to take heavy medication and was often unable to control it.
Jenny is soon convinced that the vaccination and sleeping sickness are linked. “In December 2009 my baby got an injection and three months later I had a completely different baby“, Says.
And so she wanted redress, especially when she saw that the affected families in countries like Sweden and Finland were being compensated. She went to a lawyer with her other parents.
‘5 million wasn’t enough’
John Beer, a personal injury attorney, took the case and held the government responsible for the origin of the narcolepsy. Finally a settlement was reached. “I’m glad we were able to settle down, because it worked,” he says with relief. “We have completed nine cases so far, and two others are still ongoing,” he added. A budget from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport earlier showed that €5m had been allocated to the parents’ group. “Five million is not enough,” said Peer.
Peer can imagine parents finding it unfortunate that the government does not acknowledge responsibility. “If we had said, ‘We don’t want to settle, but we acknowledge responsibility,’ it would have taken much longer.”
It is really special that the government is getting involved now, he asserts. “As far as I know, this has never happened before. It’s very private. The state has stated time and time again that this is being done in solidarity with these seriously affected children. Because the images are sensational. I was impressed to see how bad this intervention is, and that seriousness is the reason of that “.
André Notneros was president of the Health Board in 2009 and came out with advice to vaccinate high-risk groups and young children against swine flu.
“It is terrible what happened to these parents and children. I think it is very wise for the government to compensate these children and as far as I am concerned they should be generous.”
It would have been faster
Knottnerus stresses that there is still uncertainty about the causal relationship between vaccination and disease. Rare side effects can always occur. “It’s not like you can say: we can prevent this in the future. At that time there was a huge increase in the number of young children in the hospital. There was a registered vaccine that was approved by the EMA and then we advise to proceed with the introduction of the vaccination. At such a moment you have to Always decide with a certain amount of uncertainty.”
He has been away from the Board of Health for over ten years. “This took a long time, I think. The vaccination was in 2009 and compensation is only coming now. It could have been a little faster. Of course you can’t solve it 100 percent, but do you have to wait as long as the government?”
The foreign minister is on the ground
Senna is now 16 years old. The mother, Jenny, says that the Minister of State, Van Oygen, visited them personally. “He came to see us and wanted to know how narcolepsy affects our lives.”
Cena still takes heavy medication every day. He is taking his final exams at VMBO and the plan is to do the ICT course. “There is also, of course, narcolepsy to be considered,” says Jenny. It looks like the new school is willing to create a private room for Cena where he can sleep.
The fact that the legal battle is now over gives Jenny peace. Although he is still stuck not acknowledging any responsibility.
“Sure, there is a fit, but it’s not an admission. It’s unfortunate. But it’s very important for Senna’s future that he get compensation. Now we can close it.”
In 2014 we spoke to mom Jenny and 8-year-old Sina. See the report from that time here:
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