1:11pm UK, Sunday August 16, 2009
Doctors have been put on alert to look out for cases of a nerve disease once the swine flu vaccine is introduced next month.The risk of developing Guillian-Barre syndrome is increased after a flu-like illness according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
But health chiefs said despite asking doctors to be on a sharper lookout for the disease there is no evidence linking it to the vaccination.
A spokesman for the HPA also said watching for more cases of the nerve disease is "routine" when introducing a new vaccine.
The syndrome affects around 1,500 people in Britain every year.
It attacks the nervous system and can result in temporary paralysis.
The swine flu jab will be given to over 13 million people in the UK who suffer with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, nenal disease or with a compromised immune system.
It is thought the normal seasonal flu vaccine could be given at the same time.
The HPA spokesman said: "Guillain-Barre syndrome has long been identified as a potential adverse event that would require enhanced surveillance following the introduction of a pandemic vaccine.
"But there is no evidence to suggest there is an increased risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome from this vaccine.
"There is robust evidence that no increased risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome arises from seasonal flu vaccination."
A Department of Health spokesman said: "In preparing for a pandemic, appropriate trials to assess safety and the immune responses have been carried out on vaccines very similar to the swine flu vaccine. The vaccines have been shown to have a good safety profile.
"It is extremely irresponsible to suggest that the UK would use a vaccine without careful consideration of safety issues. The UK has one of the most successful immunisation programmes in the world."