THE SUNDAY POST JANUARY 4TH 1998
Vaccine victims' parents set to sue
A SCOTTISH dad who claims his daughter contracted an incurable disease after a routine jab is one of a growing band of parents planning to take legal action for compensation. At least a dozen Scots parents - and more than 1200 others across the UK have sent details of ailments experienced by their children after the vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) to a firm of solicitors which is collecting evidence for a court hearing. David Symington, of North Queensferry, had his daughter Rebecca (14) vaccinated for MMR following Government advice in 1994.
A short while later she developed painful mouth ulcers and went to the Dental Hospital in Edinburgh.
The symptoms gradually grew worse, including cramps and stomach pains, and in October, 1995, tests revealed she had developed Crohn's Disease.
David noticed the symptoms began after Rebecca's vaccination and traced a group called JAB -parents of children who may have contracted ailments after vaccinations.
They in turn put him in touch with Dawbarns, a firm of King's Lynn solicitors, who specialise in medical injury cases.
David says, "Rebecca's life changed-after the vaccination. Crohn's Disease affects the whole digestive system and is treated with steroids and other drugs.
"Each time it flares up my daughter loses two or three weeks from her schoolwork. The symptoms include bowel inflammation, mouth ulcers, painful joints and tiredness.
"There were warnings of a measles outbreak in 1994, 50 we followed Department of Health advice and had Rebecca vaccinated.
"But the Government hasn't shown any scientific evidence that there was going to be an outbreak.
"While we would probably still have Rebecca vaccinated, the Government must investigate fully the risks and perhaps consider compensating those for whom the vaccination produces ill effects."
Other parents claim the side-effects of MMR include autism, encephalitis and juvenile arthritis. The Legal Aid office has already awarded £150,000 to help them prepare their cases.
The Department of Health concedes the MMR vaccination, routinely given at 12-15 months, can cause side-effects - but says these are very rare and the advantages outweigh the risks.
Richard Barr, a partner in Dawbarns, is co-ordinating the action. He explains, "Our views are tentative, but we believe there is a case to answer. In the vast majority of cases there is no event which could account for the injury.
"Our own investigations give cause for considerable concern that the vaccines may not be safe -- or for that matter measles, mumps and rubella are not as dangerous as they are claimed to be."
Possible links between MMR vaccination and Crohn's Disease are being investigated by Dr Andrew Wakefield at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead. He maiiitains that increases in cases do coincide with the introduction of MMR.
He claims he has collated enough evidence to justify an independent Government review - and that autism also appears to have increased since the introduction of the vaccine.
Solicitor Mr Barr hopes to establish a link between vaccination and side effects based partly on research by Dr Wakefield.
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