Incidence of narcolepsy before and after MF59-adjuvanted influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccination in South Korean soldiers

Woo Jung Kim, Sang Don Lee, Eun Lee, Kee Namkoong, Kang Won Choe, Joon-Young Song, Hee-Jin Cheong, Hye Won Jeong, Jung Yeon Heo

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Previous reports mostly from Europe suggested an association between an occurrence of narcolepsy and an influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine adjuvanted with AS03 (Pandemrix®). During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic vaccination campaign, the Korean military performed a vaccination campaign with one type of influenza vaccine containing MF59-adjuvants. This study was conducted to investigate the background incidence rate of narcolepsy in South Korean soldiers and the association of the MF59-adjuvanted vaccine with the occurrence of narcolepsy in a young adult group. Methods: To assess the incidence of narcolepsy, we retrospectively reviewed medical records of suspicious cases of narcolepsy in 2007-2013 in the whole 20 military hospitals of the Korean military. The screened cases were classified according to the Brighton Collaboration case definition of narcolepsy. After obtaining the number of confirmed cases of narcolepsy per 3 months in 2007-2013, we compared the crude incidence rate of narcolepsy before and after the vaccination campaign. Results: We included 218 narcolepsy suspicious cases in the initial review, which were screened by the diagnostic code on the computerized disease registry in 2007-2013. Forty-one cases were finally diagnosed with narcolepsy in 2007-2013 (male sex, 95%; median age, 21 years). The average background incidence rate of narcolepsy in Korean soldiers was 0.91 cases per 100,000 persons per year. During the 9 months before vaccination implementation (April to December 2009), 6 narcolepsy cases occurred, whereas during the next 9 months (January to September 2010) including the 3-month vaccination campaign, 5 cases occurred. Conclusions: The incidence of narcolepsy in South Korean soldiers was not increased after the pandemic vaccination campaign using the MF59-adjuvanted vaccine. Our results suggest that the MF59-adjuvanted H1N1 vaccine did not contribute to the occurrence of narcolepsy in this young adult group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16768
Pages (from-to)4868-4872
Number of pages5
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Sep 11



  • Adjuvants
  • H1N1 influenza A
  • Incidence
  • MF59
  • Narcolepsy
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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