Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Safety of MMR jab in the spotlight after payout

A campaigner has heralded a “milestone” £90,000 compensation payout to parents whose son suffered severe brain damage after being given the MMR vaccine.

Polly Tommey, who believes her son Billy was left autistic after having the combined measles, mumps and rubella jab, said she hoped it would pave the way for other parents who suspected their child had been affected by MMR to have their cases looked into.

A medical assessment panel awarded the payout to Jackie and John Fletcher from Warrington, Cheshire, after concluding their son was left severely disabled by the MMR vaccine.

Robert, now 18, has frequent epileptic fits, is unable to talk, stand unaided or feed himself, but is not autistic.

The family successfully appealed after their application for compensation under the Government's Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme was originally turned down in 1997.

Mrs Tommey, from Hampton, Middlesex, labelled the ruling a “milestone”.

The mother-of-four, who edits the magazine The Autism File, said: “This is a huge step forward. It is the first time in this country it's been acknowledged that the MMR vaccine is not 100% safe.

The Department for Work and Pensions, which administers the payment scheme, said it did not hold information on the number of payouts made relating to MMR or other vaccines.

A spokesman said: “When a case is being assessed, it is not a requirement for the medical adviser to state which vaccine the damage has been attributed to.”

Mrs Fletcher, who runs the pressure group JABS, Justice Awareness and Basic Support, told The Mail on Sunday: “We have battled 18 years for the cause of Robert's disability to be recognised.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “This decision reflects the opinion of a tribunal on the facts of the case and they were clear it should not be seen as a precedent for any other case.”

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