Measles jabs row over 85 ill children

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The Independent Online
DOZENS of children have fallen seriously ill, their parents believe, because of a Government mass-vaccination campaign against measles and German measles last year which some doctors now think was unnecessary.

More than 20 families are considering legal action against the Government after their children contracted debilitating, crippling and, in some cases, life-threatening diseases.

In the pounds 20m campaign 7.2 million boys and girls aged up to 15 were given a combined vaccination against both measles and German measles (rubella) after Government scientists warned that without it, a measles epidemic would sweep Britain in 1995, infecting up to 200,000 children, with around 50 deaths.

The Department of Health denies there have been any lasting side-effects from the vaccinations, or that any other diseases were triggered.

But a parents' support group, Jabs, has a list of 85 children who, their parents say, became ill, 40 of them seriously. The secretary of the group, Jackie Fletcher, said: "Some children's lives have been severely damaged as a result of last year's campaign."

Nine families are now applying for legal aid to sue the Government over the alleged harm to their children.

Their solicitor, Richard Barr, said yesterday: "Fifteen more families are considering application and other legal firms are also handling cases. It should be understood that it is extremely difficult for some parents, who are literally fighting for their child's life, to find time to even consider litigation."

Richard Nicholson, editor of the Bulletin of Medical Ethics, argues that the Government "misled parents about the need for the campaign and the relative risks of measles and measles immunisation".

Full story, page 7

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