Oxford expert backs parents' measles fears

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The Independent Online
OXFORD University's professor of paediatrics has spoken out in support of parents who have criticised the Government for last year's mass vaccination campaign against measles and German measles, which they allege damaged their children.

More than 200 other families have come forward, claiming their children were affected by the measles vaccine, following last weekend's Independent on Sunday report that 85 children had fallen ill after they were inoculated. Among the long-term illnesses the children had suffered are epilepsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, arthritis and encephalitis.

The Department of Health has continued to insist that no children have suffered any long-lasting side-effects from vaccinations, or that any other diseases were triggered.

However, Professor Richard Moxon of Oxford University, together with several other leading paediatricians, has backed the parents' fears about the vaccination and lack of knowledge about possible side-effects. "The concerns expressed by these parents are very sensible. There is a horrendous gap in this country's research,'' he said.

Warrington District Hospital consultant Dr Richard Briggs has confirmed that he is treating two severely damaged children suspected of being affected by the vaccine. One child collapsed in a Cheshire school playground a month after being inoculated during last year's vaccination campaign. She was later diagnosed as suffering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Dr Peggy Frith, a consultant eye specialist in Oxfordshire, has reported treating a child with severe eye damage, which is believed to have been linked to the measles vaccination. The parents of another child received a letter from his consultant paediatrician which said: "This is to confirm that Andrew seems to be suffering ... as a result of the previous vaccination."

Although many more parents have come forward in the past few days to speak out about their suspicions, the organisers of the Jabs support group for families with vaccine-damaged children believe others are too scared to do so. Despite the support of some doctors, others are dismissive.

Jackie Fletcher, secretary of Jabs, said: "It is extremely difficult for many parents to come forward. They are scared to alienate their doctors on whom they totally depend for the survival of their children."

Already more than 20 families have considered taking legal action against the Government, and last week the solicitor Richard Barr, who is representing several families applying for legal aid to sue the Government, was contacted by another 40 families. He said: "I have been instructed to investigate legal action on behalf of a number of parents who believe that they were not properly informed of the risks when their consent was sought for their child's vaccination."

n Jabs can be contacted on 01942-713565.

Letters, page 22

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