Flu vaccine leads to $11.6 million government settlement for paralyzed former nurse

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A former nurse will receive an $11.6 million government settlement to pay for future care after a flu vaccination left her paralyzed. The news could fuel another round of debate about whether vaccines should be mandated for staff in long-term care and other health fields.

Sarah Behie, 24, received the flu vaccination in October 2010 while working at Lehigh Valley Hospital, according to the Allentown Morning Call. Three weeks later, she experienced weakness and tingling in her limbs. She subsequently was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome — a neuromuscular disease in which the immune system attacks the nervous system.

Since then, she has been in the care of hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. She reportedly has lost the use of her legs and can barely use her upper body.

Lehigh Valley Hospital did not require its employees to receive a flu vaccine at the time Behie became ill, although it is required now, a hospital spokesman told McKnight's. The hospital's vaccine mandate was implemented in 2011 and took full effect in 2012. The hospital network was not a party in the legal action resulting in the settlement, the spokesman noted.

The $11 million settlement was reached through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the Morning Call reported Tuesday.

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