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Finland vows care for narcolepsy kids who had swine flu shot

HELSINKI — The Finnish government and major insurance companies announced Wednesday they will pay for lifetime medical care for children diagnosed with narcolepsy after receiving the swine flu vaccine.

"The compensation will provide much-needed financial assistance for the families, although it cannot take away the emotional distress caused by this condition," Social Services and Health Minister Paula Risikko said in a statement.

Finnish and international researchers recently found a conclusive link between the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine and new cases of narcolepsy, a chronic nervous system disorder which causes people to often uncontrollably fall asleep.

The Finnish Pharmaceutical Insurance Pool (LVP), which represents insurance companies, said Wednesday it would honour all insurance claims in this category.

LVP said it would review each claim individually to calculate the scope of the payout.

The Finnish government meanwhile agreed to cover any medical costs exceeding the insurance claims.

In Finland, 79 children between the ages of four and 19 developed narcolepsy after receiving the Pandemrix vaccine in 2009 and 2010.

Of these cases, an unusually high number, 76, also suffered from bouts of cataplexy, suffering hallucinations or paralysing physical collapses, according to Finnish research.