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Galway girls blame cancer vaccine for life of pain

Denise McNamara

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At least five Galway girls are suffering a catalogue of life-changing debilitating ailments which they blame on the cervical cancer vaccine.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority has stated that it has received 934 reports of suspected adverse reactions to the human pappilomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil, administered to teenagers to protect against a virus that causes seven out of ten cervical cancers. These included dizziness, headache, fainting, injection site swelling, injection site pain, raised temperature, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting.

Reports of persisting or chronic fatigue or severe pain, in some cases with other non-specific symptoms such as drowsiness, gastrointestinal upset, joint swelling, flu like illness and menstrual disorders have also been received.

These were forwarded to the European Medicines Agency’s EudraVigilance database for inclusion in global signal detection activities.

A review published earlier this month by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) dismissed a connection between the vaccine and two reported syndromes, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a condition where the heart rate increases abnormally on sitting or standing up, together with symptoms such as dizziness, fainting and weakness, as well as headache, aches and pains, nausea and fatigue.

However 127 cases of severe ongoing side effects in young Irish girls have been catalogued by a support group set up parents to fight for better treatment and to raise awareness about the risks associated with the vaccine.

At least five of them are from Galway, according to Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who is backing the parents in their campaign.

Regret – Reactions and Effects of Gardasil Resulting in Extreme Trauma – believes a pattern of debilitating illnesses, including extreme fatigue, chronic pain and constant fits, has resulted from the vaccine in their daughters who were healthy and extremely sporty before taking part in the vaccination programme currently rolled out at secondary schools.

They point to the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s own clinical trials where 2.5% (one in 40) of participants reported a serious adverse event after taking the vaccine.

In addition, 3.3% (one in 30) also reported a new auto-immune condition. The parents say the risks outweigh the benefits with the current rate of incidence of cervical cancer in Ireland at 13 per 100,000 (or 0.013%).

The Irish parents are not alone in their campaign against the vaccine. A Spanish support group has criticised the focus of the EMA review, saying the two syndromes were only officially diagnosed in a small minority of cases.

In Denmark a study published by the Danish Medical Journal in February found there was a consistency in the symptoms of 53 patients examined, which included “pronounced autonomic dysfunction including different degrees of orthostatic intolerance, severe non-migraine-like headache, excessive fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, gastrointestinal discomfort and widespread pain of a neuropathic character”.

“Our findings neither confirm nor dismiss a causal link to the Q-HPV vaccine, but they suggest that further research is urgently warranted to clarify the pathophysiology behind the symptoms experienced in these patients and to evaluate the possibility and the nature of any causal link and hopefully establish targeted treatment options.”

In September the Danish health authorities replaced the Gardasil vaccine with its competitor Cervarix. Japan withdrew its recommendation for a HPV vaccine in 2013 due to concerns about long-term pain and numbness. Last August guidelines approved by the Japan Medical Association (JMA) for the evaluation and management of symptoms that begin after HPV vaccine injection were issued to healthcare professionals.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has stated in the Dáil that the vaccine protects against two high-risk types of HPV that caused 73 per cent of all cervical cancers and could save an estimated 60 lives annually in Ireland.

“While no medicine (including vaccines) is entirely without risk, the safety profile of Gardasil has been continuously monitored since it was first authorised both nationally and at EU level,” he said.

“Healthcare professionals should therefore continue using them in accordance with the current product information.”

The HSE said in a statement that 300 women annually are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Ireland and 100 die from the disease. All cervical cancers are linked to high risk HPV types.

“Gardasil has been found to be over 99% effective in preventing pre-cancerous lesions associated with HPV types 16 and 18 in young women aged 16-26 years. Gardasil has been found to be over 99% effective in preventing HPV 6 or 11 related genital warts.

“The impact of a population wide Gardasil vaccination programme has been demonstrated in Australia where there has been a 50% decline in high grade cervical abnormalities in girls under 18 years and a 93% reduction in the number of diagnoses of genital warts in women up to 21 years of age.

“ There has also been an 82% reduction in genital warts diagnosed in heterosexual men up to 21 years of age which is attributed to herd immunity.”

The executive also insisted there was no evidence of long term “sequelae” to Gardasil.

The HSE pointed out that by March 2015, over 187 million doses of Gardasil had been distributed to 72 million people worldwide either as part of national immunisation programmes or by private doctors.

Life was changed forever by vaccine for cervical cancer

Mary O’Malley* from Galway City, said her twelve-year-old daughter had been a sports fanatic before receiving the HPV vaccine in 2010.

After the first shot she had sore glands, headaches and tiredness, all normal symptoms which subsided after a few days.

Following the second shot, she had profuse bleeding from the injection site and then developed severe headaches. Her mom put it down to her being run down from doing too much sport.

Within eleven months the teenager was barely able to get out of bed. She was surviving on rice cakes and water yet piled on three stone in two months.

Every inch of her body ached. Numerous trips to the GP and tests conducted at the hospital failed to get a diagnosis other than teenage hormones or emotional problems.

She eventually had to give up school and studied at home for the final two years, managing to pass her leaving cert despite her illnesses. In 2013 a paediatrician diagnosed her with chronic fatigue syndrome. It was only when Mary discovered a parent in America complaining about the exact same symptoms in her daughter on a health website that a link with the HPV vaccine emerged.

“From day one my daughter said she didn’t feel right after the vaccine and I didn’t listen to her,” she sighs, tears in her eyes.

“The initial symptoms – she’s learned to cope with them – but now there’s new chronic pains, her left leg has started to turn in, 18 months ago she lost her eye sight, it came back but the peripheral sight in her left eye never came back. She’s under a neurologist for ice pick headaches,” explains Mary.

“She has no social life, she can’t go into town, she’s never been to a disco, she couldn’t go to her debs. She’s lost most of her friends since dropping out of school – yet nobody cares.”

A dad from South Galway said his 15-year-old daughter was a county camogie player before her life changed dramatically five months ago. She collapsed on a GAA pitch and was out cold for thirteen minutes.

After that, the fits kept occurring, even when she was sitting on a chair. She sleeps up to 20 hours a day and can no longer go to school. A single dad, he cannot leave her alone for long in case she passes out.

Medical tests have revealed low blood pressure but so far no definite reason has been uncovered for her dramatic change in health.

When he read accounts of the girls published on the Regret website, he recognised all of the symptoms, none of which were present before she got the vaccine when she was twelve.

“My girl’s personality has changed completely. She used to be so outgoing. She used to do sean nós dancing. She can’t do anything now. The other mothers don’t want her over because they’re afraid she’ll collapse.”

After meeting with eight such parents from across the region, Oranmore Senator Fidelma Healy Eames has raised the plight of the girls in the Seanad. She is calling on the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to set up a multidisciplinary team to investigate the cases and to properly treat the teenagers.

She is also urging the HSE to accurately outline the possible side effects in their leaflets so that parents can make an informed choice.

“These girls all have very similar symptoms in common which they only developed after the vaccine and they can’t find out why they have them. They were all gifted at sports. We have a duty of care to them and to the next round of girls who get the vaccine – we could be robbing their teenage years from them,” he exclaimed.

“We’re not trying to scaremonger – I’ve been subjected to a lot of abuse on social media since I raised this. But these girls are very sick, they’re totally debilitated, their personalities have changed. The doctors’ hands are tied because this is public health policy.”

Mary would dearly like a holistic assessment of her daughter’s condition so that an overall plan of action could be drawn up together by medics across the specialities.

“Denmark and Japan have clinics up and running and protocols there to treat these girls. We want to be able to go to a GP without being dismissed, without being told it’s in their heads. Say that to a girl who is a bungling mess, who can’t put on her clothes because of the horrific pain, who can’t brush her teeth or even stand up.”

*Names changed or not used to protect the privacy of the girls

Connacht Tribune

Man on assault charges after allegedly coughing at Tesco workers

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A 33-year-old man appeared in custody before Galway District Court this morning on assault charges after allegedly coughing in the direction of two Tesco workers yesterday.

Konrad Prokopczyk, a Polish national who resides with his sister at 70 Esker Hills, Ballinasloe, was arrested by Garda David Sheffield at 5pm on Sunday afternoon at Tesco in Ballinasloe, and brought to the local Garda Station where he was later charged with assaulting both employees, with breaching the peace and with giving a false and misleading name and address.

Garda Sheffield said the accused replied “I didn’t do it” when charged with giving a false name and address and made no reply to the other charges.

Garda Sheffield objected to a possible bail application under the “O’Callaghan rules”, citing the seriousness of the alleged offences and the possibility he may reoffend.

“He showed no remorse and thought the offences funny and was laughing at the two injured parties who are employees at Tesco,” Garda Sheffield told Judge Marie Keane.

Defence solicitor, Martina Moran, who was appointed to represent Prokopczyk under the free legal aid scheme, applied for bail.

She said her client had no previous convictions or outstanding warrants and would abide by any bail conditions set by the court.

Ms Moran said her client was a Polish national who had been in the country for two years and had recently been laid off from his job.

Sergeant Aoife Curley, prosecuting, again objected to bail, saying: “He didn’t seem to be respectful to the Government guidelines regarding Covid-19 and showed no respect for the employees.

“The allegations are he coughed in the direction of both employees and showed no remorse afterwards.  There is a fear this type of behaviour might happen again,” she said.

Ms Moran said her client was very aware now of the seriousness of the current situation and was notified of the consequences.

Judge Keane said it was with the greatest of reluctance that she would grant Prokopczyk bail.

“It’s utterly despicable,” she added before remanding the accused on bail to appear before Ballinasloe District Court next Thursday, April 2.

Bail was granted on condition he continue to reside at his address, observe a nightly curfew between 8pm and 8am, comply with Covid-19 Government guidelines, provide a mobile phone number to Gardai to be answered at all times, and not enter any retail outlet of any description during the current emergency.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Multi-agency Covid-19 response forum launched in Galway

Enda Cunningham

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A new Covid-19 response forum has been formed in Galway City – with more than a dozen agencies including the City Council, the HSE, Gardaí and COPE Galway.

A dedicated community support helpline will be launched on Monday to assist at-risk members of the public.

Galway City Council is the lead agency in the new ‘Covid-19 Galway City Community Response Forum’.

According to a statement from the Council, the purpose of the forum is to “lead the co-ordination of Covid-19 community supports and resilience and to ensure that there is a co-ordinated community response, enabling all the voluntary and statutory agencies to collaborate in support of our communities and particularly our most vulnerable members”.

The new helpline will assist at-risk members of the public in accessing non-emergency and non-medical supports and advice during the current public health emergency.

“The helpline is focused primarily on ensuring that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access deliveries of groceries, medicine and fuels,” the statement reads.

Included in the Covid-19 Galway City Community Response Forum are: Galway City Council; Health Service Executive; An Garda Síochána; Community Welfare Service; Galway City Partnership; Galway City Community Network; Galway Volunteer Centre; COPE Galway and other community, voluntary and sports representatives

“Its core aim is contributing to the community-wide effort to limit the spread of Covid-19. Galway City Council, through this group, will ensure that the wide variety of groups working across the city to assist those in need, will do so in an organised, collaborative and targeted way.

“The Community Response Forum is there to ensure the very best use of the many resources assisting vulnerable persons with their daily needs at this unprecedented time, whether that is collecting medication, food shopping, social support and contact,” the statement reads.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said: “There are a number of agencies currently doing excellent work in delivering care to older and vulnerable people in our communities. These groups are currently operating independently of each other and Galway City Council’s role is to provide a targeted, integrated and coordinated approach to the delivery of these much needed services to our more vulnerable citizens across the city during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Galway City Council is ideally placed both statutorily and regionally to channel this great work and provide the governance structure in partnership with all stakeholders.  This public health crisis has changed life for so many, and we are there to help with that change.

“Our own staff whose day-jobs have changed due to this crisis, will be a key resource in the management and operation of this community support programme along with our partner agencies/groups,” said Mr McGrath.

Set to come into effect from Monday, March 30, a dedicated Freephone number will be available in the coming days but in the meantime members of the public can access this new resource by calling Galway City Council on 091 536 400 or by emailing covidsupport@galwaycity.ie

An information leaflet including the new freephone number and other information will be distributed around the city over the coming days.

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Connacht Tribune

Government publishes list of ‘essential service providers’

Enda Cunningham

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The Government has this evening published the list of essential service providers who are permitted to travel to and from work during the lockdown until April 12.

The following is the guidance issued:

 

What employers should do

  • refer to this guidance to decide whether your organisation is providing an essential service; it is not necessary to seek official authorisation
  • if you are providing an essential service, you should identify those employees (including sub-contractors etc) who are essential to the provision of that service and notify them (this can be done by category of employee or by individual; it could include all employees of the organisation)
  • if you are providing an essential service, latest public health guidance should be followed at all times

What employees should do

  • if your employer notifies you that you are an essential employee, or that you belong to a category of essential employees, you are permitted to travel to and from work
  • when travelling to and from work, you should at all times bring with you either a work identification or a letter from your employer indicating that you are an essential employee, as well as one other form of identification
  • If you are self-employed, a farmer or agricultural worker, or a member of the clergy, you should carry one form of identification with you at all times.

If you are a volunteer who is working as part of the national community response, you are permitted to travel for that purpose, eg if you are delivering food, supplies or medicine to a person who is cocooned or vulnerable. The Local Government emergency response teams will co-ordinate that response at local level.

Business Continuity and Resilience

All organisations who provide essential services should have business continuity and resilience plans in place. This should take account of the possibility that key workers or key facilities may be impacted by COVID-19.

Non Essential Services

If you are not engaged in the provision of essential services, then you are not permitted to travel to and from work until April 12th 2020.

There will be a grace period until 6pm on Monday March 30th for people who need to make necessary arrangements to wind down their activities in an orderly way. This should however be done in a way that minimises travel and personal interaction as much as possible.

In exceptional circumstances, it is accepted that some extra time will be needed for a wind down of activity, or necessary for a site to continue to operate at a reduced level of activity eg in complex manufacturing processes or very large construction projects.

Review

This Guidance will be kept under ongoing review, and will be updated as required.

Services provided in the following areas are considered to be essential:

Agriculture & Fishing

  • farmers
  • farm labourers
  • farm relief service workers,
  • others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services), and workers involved in fishing

Manufacturing

  • the manufacture of food and beverage products
  • the manufacture of prepared animal feeds
  • the manufacture of work-wear apparel or footwear
  • the manufacture of pulp, paper and paperboard and wood;
  • the printing and reproduction of newspapers and other media services
  • the manufacturing of coke and refined petroleum products
  • the manufacturing of alumina; chemicals and chemical products
  • the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations
  • the manufacture of products necessary for the supply chain of essential services; computer, electronic and optical products including semi-conductors; electrical equipment, machinery and other equipment (including agricultural and forestry machinery); medical devices; and medical and dental equipment and supplies.

Repair and installation of Machinery and Equipment

  • the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment and industrial machinery and equipment for essential services

Electricity, Gas & Water

  • electric power generation, transmission and distribution
  • extraction and distribution of gas;
  • water collection, treatment and supply
  • sewerage; waste collection, remediation activities and other waste management treatment and disposal activities

Construction

  • essential health and related projects relevant to the COVID-19 crisis, and supplies necessary for such projects;
  • repair/construction of critical road and utility infrastructure
  • delivery of emergency services to businesses and homes on an emergency call-out basis in areas such as electrical, plumbing, glazing and roofing.

Wholesale and Retail Trade

  • retail services in accordance with the separate “Updated Essential Retail Outlets ” list;
  • wholesale and distribution services necessary for the sale of food, beverages, fuel, medicines, medical products and devices and essential household products; takeaways and food delivery services

Transport Storage and Communication

  • land transport (e.g. bus, rail and taxi services)
  • road, rail, sea and air freight
  • sea and air passenger services; ports and airports
  • warehousing and support activities for transportation including cargo-handling; postal and courier activities; network control and critical maintenance (including roads); and safety related functions

Accommodation and Food Services

  • hotels or similar providing essential accommodation (including homeless, direct provision and related services)
  • food and beverage service activities in accordance with the separate the essential retail outlets listlist or for supply to a business engaged in an essential service

Information and Communications

  • the publishing of newspapers, journals and periodicals as well as video, television programme production, sound recording, radio and television broadcasting; wired and satellite and telecommunications activities; internet and cloud providers; data centres and related services.

Financial and legal activities

  • banking and financial services (including banks, credit unions and post offices)
  • accountancy, legal and insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people

Professional, Scientific and Technical activities

  • engineering, technical testing activities and analysis
  • scientific research and development activities
  • regulation, inspection and certification services necessary to support essential services

Rental and Leasing Activities

  • rental and lease of cars
  • light motor vehicles and trucks necessary to support the provision of essential services.

Administrative and Support Services

Where necessary to support other essential services:

  • employment placement and human resources associated with the recruitment and deployment of workers
  • security activities to assist in the delivery of essential services and the securing of premises closed to the public
  • cleaning of buildings and industrial cleaning activities; business support activities which are necessary to support essential services included on this list; payroll and payment services necessary for the operation of businesses; data processing, hosting and related activities.

Public Administration and Defence

Public administration activities necessary to support essential services and provision of social protection benefits (including Civil Service and Local Government);

  • An Garda Siochana, Garda Staff and the Garda Reserve
  • public order, safety, fire service and ambulance activities
  • the Defence Forces;
  • emergency call answering service to ensure administration of justice;
  • Prison services and Child Detention services
  • cyber-security
  • regulatory processes and certification required to ensure supply chains, food, medicine and general process safety
  • operation of botanical gardens, parks, forests and nature reserves
  • funeral services
  • religious personnel
  • office-holders and public representatives

Human health and social work activities

  • hospital services
  • paramedical and essential therapy activities
  • public health activities (including all those deployed to contract tracing and COVID-19 testing services)
  • laboratory services
  • drug treatment and addiction services
  • hospice services
  • pharmacy services
  • primary care, general and specialist medical practice activities provided by public and private providers
  • emergency dental practice activities
  • blood donation service
  • residential care activities (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse, elderly and persons with disabilities, children’s residential services)
  • homecare home help and other community services
  • social work and social care activities (including disability services, mental health, child protection and welfare, domestic, sexual and gender based violence, homeless services including outreach)
  • ambulance/pre-hospital emergency care services
  • minor injury units
  • maternity services
  • health, social work, environmental, food safety regulatory activities

Community/Voluntary Services

  • community and voluntary workers, working in a publicly commissioned service, not otherwise included on the list, deployed to assist in the delivery of essential services *volunteer services operating under the local authority emergency management framework in accordance with public health guidance
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