Swedish nine-year-old dies of TBE despite being “fully vaccinated”

Published 3 July 2024
- By Editorial Staff
The nine-year-old's medical condition was dismissed by the medical staff.

A nine-year-old child has died of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), despite being “fully vaccinated” and therefore supposedly “fully protected” against the disease. Meanwhile, the hospital’s handling of the case has been described as “disastrous”, with important information about the child’s condition not recorded or shared due to stressed doctors and staff shortages.

In October 2023, the nine-year-old, who had previously been completely healthy, suddenly fell ill with severe headaches and sought treatment at the pediatric emergency department in Uppsala. The child had been bitten by many ticks during the summer, but because he had been vaccinated against TBE, he was considered to have “adequate protection”, so the doctors concluded that it was a migraine, and the child was sent home.

The next day, the child and caregiver returned because the headaches had worsened, and X-rays and neurological tests were done – but again, no explanation for the headaches was found – and the child was sent home again.

A day later, the 9-year-old suddenly began having severe seizures and was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit, where he later died. In spite of the vaccination, which was said to be fully protective, it was concluded that the child died of meningitis.

Poor handling by the hospital

The Academic Hospital makes a Lex Maria notification, and it appears that the medical staff was stressed, understaffed, and that documentation, reports, and journal entries are incomplete.

“Information about the patient’s respiratory arrest was not included in the information transfer and is not available. Staff feel that the transfer of information can be a bit like ‘whispering'”, notes Ivo, the Swedish Health and Social Care Inspectorate, who rates the seriousness of the incident as ‘catastrophic’.

Johan Hedlund, head of the infection control unit in the Uppsala region, has never heard of a case of “fully vaccinated” Swedish children dying from diseases caused by TBE.

– If you look at the whole of Sweden, we have one or two deaths a year, so deaths are very unusual, he says.

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