In one independent case study, a 25 year old woman developed acute disseminated post vaccinal encephalomyelitis (ADEM) after being vaccinated with the old combination group A and C polysaccharide vaccine (Arq Neuropsiquiatr, 1997; 55: 632-5). The symptoms only disappeared and the lesions on the myelin sheath of her nervous system finally resolved after treatment with high doses of intravenous steroids. As the researchers noted, although most cases of ADEM have been related to other vaccinations or conditions, this case report indicates that it may also be related to exposure to A and C polysaccharide protein vaccines and meningococcal vaccine. Whether ADEM becomes a new condition in children once the meningitis C vaccine is widely disseminated is anyone's guess.
In an adult study of another meningitic C vaccine which had been conjugated with the tetanus toxoid, half the 30 subjects reported tenderness at the injection site and half erythema, 13 or nearly half reported pain, two reported headache, and one myalgia.
One patient had a fever higher than 38 degrees C five to seven days after vaccination, but this again was discounted because the researchers said it was associated with a viral illness" (Vaccine; 1999; 18: 641-6).
As David Hall says, we won't really know the long term effects until the product is out in the mass market. Indeed, we won't be sure of anything until virtually every child in Britain has been given the jab.
"There is no evidence that multiple vaccines overload a child's immune system," says the DoH factsheet. But we don't know the effect of this vaccine on other vaccines given at the same time, as this wasn't really tested for, since multiple vaccines are always presumed to be safe before proven dangerous.
Including the meningitis C vaccine on the standard schedule of infant vaccinations now increases to six the number of vaccines given simultaneously to infants at two months of age.
In the British infant study, the researchers admitted that "increased amounts of carrier protein may interfere with immunologic priming with other conjugate vaccines. This should not affect protection induced by this vaccine but may be important in combination conjugate vaccines using the same carrier proteins." This means that the new vaccine may interfere with other conjugate vaccines like the Hib vaccine although, again, we won't know until we suck it and see.
No doubt the government was motivated by nothing but good intentions in rushing through this new vaccine. But the history of vaccination shows that it is always wise to err on the side of caution. In the US, a vaccine for pneumococcal meningitis under development, also produced by Wyeth, was carefully tested for four years on a sample population of 38,000 children in northern California before being released to the public at large.
In the UK, however, as with the measles epidemic, the DoH is rashly attempting wholesale herd immunity with an untested product, rather than carefully weighing up the risks and benefits of a new, potentially dangerous jab on individual children. One day the government may learn to lead with its head as well as its heart.