Page last updated at 11:00 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Swine flu vaccine investigated for rare side effects

Swine flu vaccination
The swine flu vaccine is being offered to those in at-risk groups

A study to identify any rare side effects of the swine flu vaccination is being launched by scientists in Dundee.

Although already tested as part of the licensing process, the new study will focus on any effects not picked up by routine clinical trials of the vaccine.

The study will also include people who have declined to be vaccinated.

The swine flu treatment has already been offered to at-risk groups in Scotland, including children aged from six months to five years.

Those overseeing the research said people taking part would be assessed for up to a year after receiving the vaccination to monitor its effects.

The study team plan to use internet and mobile phone technology to streamline the data collection and processing.

'Extremely rare'

Those who were offered the jab but decided not to take it are also being invited to take part in the research to allow comparisons to be drawn between the different groups.

The nation-wide study is being run by the Medicines Monitoring Unit (MEMO), University of Dundee, in collaboration with the Drug Safety Research Unit (DSRU) in Southampton.

Initially, researchers plan to look at people aged 16 and over, but said they hoped to expand the study in the near future to include children.

Dr Isla Mackenzie, consultant physician with MEMO and lead doctor on the team, said: "Working with very large numbers of people is the only way to pick up extremely rare but important side effects of drugs or vaccines, such as those that only occur in 1 in 10,000 people.

"While the swine flu vaccine has been licensed and passed as safe to administer to the population, it is routine for new vaccines to continue to be monitored."

Dr Deborah Layton, pharmacist and principal research fellow from the Drug Safety Research Unit, added, "This study is complementary to other studies being conducted to monitor the swine flu vaccine, and offers the potential for near 'real-time' vaccine monitoring and alerts, with minimal additional workload for doctors and nurses involved in the vaccination programme."

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