MN Department of Health begins Surveillance for Guillain-Barr

(St. Paul/Minneapolis) - The Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC) today reports that the Minnesota Department of Health has began conducting statewide surveillance for the emergence of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare and often severe neurological disorder that can lead to death.

In 1976, the swine flu vaccine was linked to 500 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Thirty people died and thousands filed injury claims.

Expected Cases?
"Is the Minnesota Department of Health expecting more people to come down with Guillain-Barré syndrome as a result of the state's swine flu vaccination program? If the Department is concerned about this possibility, shouldn't they make that clear to the public so individuals can make a fully informed decision about H1N1 vaccination?" asks Twila Brase, president of CCHC.

On September 14, 2009, the Minnesota Department of Health published notice of the new surveillance requirement in the Minnesota State Register. Surveillance began on October 1, 2009 and will continue for two years. The notice does not cite rationale for the new surveillance requirement.

At Risk?
Brase says the recent declaration of a national public health emergency in combination with 2009 modifications in the Minnesota state laws related to public health emergencies may put individuals and families at additional risk.

The declaration allows federal officials to waive certain legal requirements, and the revised state law allows Minnesota health officials to "modify state drug labeling requirements." (Minn. Statutes 151.37, subd.2(b)) potentially leading to reduced information for the public.

"Members of the public need to be fully informed of the potential dangers of the H1N1 vaccine before they agree to vaccination," says Brase.

CCHC has provided the public with relevant information and state laws in all 50 states regarding individual rights and government health powers under public health emergencies at www.PublicHealthPowers.us.

Media Contact:

Twila Brase, President and Co-founder
Office: 651-646-8935