"OBSERVER ON SUNDAY" JANUARY 1ST 1995

Measles jab puts Jason out of the running

Chris Arnot

JASON LLOYD had been looking forward to joining the England under-l4 cricket squad for winter training at Durham this week. His father, Clive, put England to the sword many times as captain of the West Indies, hut Jason wanted to play for the country of his birth. He has plenty of promise with bat and ball - but is unlikely to wield either with any menace in 1995.

For almost a month, Jason, 13, has had a rare and painful inflammation of the nerves known as sensory Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Consultant neurologist Ken Cummings of the Alexandra Hospital, Cheadle, Greater Manchester, has little doubt that it is a direct result of the vaccination he received as part of the Government's 20 million campaign against measles and rubella.

Until recently Jason lay sedated in a private ward. A table was placed over his legs to keep the bed linen off nerve endings. Soup and water have been his sustenance for four weeks.

Jason's mother, Mrs Waveney Lloyd, a trained nurse, has a copy of the Department of Health guidelines, issued to parents before the immunisation programme began. Jason had measles as a baby and she thought that would have given him immunity. But the guidelines state: 'We strongly recommend that children have another injection. This will greatly increase their protection . . . Side effects are even less likely with a booster injection.' And if they did occur, 'giving your child paracetamol will usually control any fever or aching joints'.

Jason was vaccinated on 20 November and his problems began two weeks later. 'At first it was like pins and needles and I just thought he was playing up,' said Waveney. 'Then I noticed he was scratching himself with a bottle top. Soon he was screaming his head off and asking for his legs to be amputated.'

At his practice in Stockport, three miles from the Alexandra Hospital, Dr David Sim examined a girl suffering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome. 'Two months later and she's still not able to do a full day at school,' he said. 'The Department of Health will say it's no thing to do with the vaccine, but I've little doubt that it's connected.'

The Department of Health admits to 80 serious adverse reactions from the programme, which covered 6.5 million children. But Jackie Fletcher of Jabs ((Justice, Awareness and Basic Support) says the medical establishment is reluctant to link child illnesses to vaccination. Before the latest round of injections, we had 205 parents contact us over a 5year period,' she said. 'But only seven of those cases have been officially reported by doctors.'

David and Judith Dwyer from Cardiff lost their four-year-old daughter, Chloe, from Guillain-Barre Syndrome in March, 1989. Her death certificate said 'natural causes'. Her illness also began soon after her measles injection.

Having been denied legal aid to take their case to court, the Dwyers are now pursuing a claim for compensation with the Black-pool-based Vaccine-Damaged Payment Unit. The maximum payment is 30,000.

The Lloyds were due to fly back from Florida tonight after cutting short a holiday at the home of former West Indies spinner Lance Gibbs. They hoped it would give Jason a chance to convalesce, but his condition deteriorated. 'My husband is like a broken man,' Waveney said. 'We don't know how long this is going to go on.'

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