'I am ashamed to be an Irish man,' Aoife Bennett’s father tells court hearing swine flu vaccine case

'I am ashamed to be an Irish man,' Aoife Bennett’s father tells court hearing swine flu vaccine case
Aoife Bennett with her parents Pat and Mary. Pic: Collins

The father of a woman who claims she developed narcolepsy after she got the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine said he and his wife wanted to be responsible citizens when they had their daughter vaccinated.

Aoife Bennett’s father Pat said he did not expect “a life-long illness” after his teenage daughter got the Pandemrix vaccine in December 2009.

“If my daughter had been in Newry rather than Naas, she would be well now,” he told the High Court.

This is the only time I am ashamed to be an Irish man.

He was referring to the fact that mass vaccination had stopped in Northern Ireland in December 2009 when Aoife was vaccinated in Co. Kildare.

Mr Bennett who works in the health services said he believed it was a civic responsibility to get the vaccine to protect his children, family and community.

“We wanted to be responsible citizens,” he said.

He said he heard the Department of Health Chief medical officer on the radio talking about the vaccination programme.

“I would have no reason to doubt him. The message was that the vaccine was safe,” Mr Bennett told Mr Justice Michael McGrath.

He added that he thought it would be better to get the vaccine than not.

He said he had got the swine flu vaccine himself, but he was given the other vaccine which was available.

Mr Bennett said his family were “like mushrooms in the dark” and discovery of information and documents before the case has “ brought a lot of information out.”

Aoife Bennett.
Aoife Bennett.

Aoife Bennett was only 16 years old when she got the vaccine as part of a mass vaccination programme as the country braced itself for a threatened human swine flu pandemic 10 years ago.

It is the eighth day of Ms Bennett’s action which is a test case for about 100 other cases relating to the alleged side effects of the swine flu vaccine.

Ms Bennett, Lakelands, Naas, Co Kildare, a third-level student has sued the Minister for Health, the HSE, the vaccine producer Glaxosmithkline Biologicals S.A. and Health Products Regulatory Authority.

In the proceedings, it is claimed HSE brochures on the vaccine had the effect of allegedly misleading those who read them as to the safety of the Pandemrix vaccine and the alleged risk associated with its use.

It is claimed the brochures contained advice which was not consistent with the the actual facts.

It is further claimed the Health Minister and HSE ought to have known those who read the brochures were likely to come to an alleged erroneous conclusion as to the safety of Pandemrix vaccine and whether it had been adequately tested at all on children and adolescents prior to its release to the public.

Glaxosmithkline, it is claimed, demanded an indemnity from liability from the State before it would agree to supply the vaccine.

The Health Products Regulation Authority, it is alleged, was well aware there was an alternative vaccine which had more clinical data available in relation to its safety and efficacy.

All the defendants deny the claims and deny liability.

The case before Mr Justice Michael McGrath continues on Tuesday.

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