Deja vu

Taken from the Daily Telegraph 1st February 1974 - Vaccine 'Risk To Children' By the Telegraph's Parliamentary Staff.

An end to the "conspiracy of silence" about the way vaccines can react on children was demanded by Mr Ashley (Labour, Stoke-on-Trent, S) in the commons last night.

He challenged the Department of Health and Social Security during an adjournment debate to deny that between 1,000 and 2,000 children in Britain had suffered brain damage for life as a result of the whooping cough vaccine.

Mr Ashley, who expressed full support for the general immunisation programme, said he wanted to tear aside the veil of obscurity which had shrouded the fate of thousands of children. He called for urgent action to reduce the risk of future tragedies and State compensation for those already injured.

"While I recognise the fear that my discussion of risks may impair the public's confidence in immunisation procedures, I believe it is time the conspiracy of silence was ended because too many young lives are being devastated."

Mr Ashley quoted from the letter from a mother whose daughter born in 1960 was taken ill after a triple vaccine injection for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. The letter said that at 13 Carolyn could not walk, talk or help herself in any way, and could not even hold her head up and was of no mental age at all.

"Tragedy for a child, heartbreak for her parents," said Mr Ashley. "Yet the Government and the medical profession have the insolence to discourage discussion of these effects."

He said the Government's "shattering complacency" was revealed when the Parliamentary Secretary admitted in a written reply that the majority of adverse reactions were not reported.

"The Minister has already admitted to me that the machinery for notification is not working properly. He is, therefore, conducting a national immunisation service without full knowledge of the terrible risks involved for some children."

The Government should take firmer measures to ensure that no child obviously at risk was vaccinated.

Compensation should be provided for those already damaged, and a State compensation scheme set up to underwrite the immunisation programme.

Mr Alison, Under-Secretary, said no immunisation procedure was entirely free from risk of ill-effects. The balance of risks and benefits was kept continually under review.

All vaccines carried risks substantially less than that of remaining unvaccinated. He understood about 170 reports of adverse reactions to vaccines of all types were received each year.

Mr Alison rejected the suggestion that compensation should be paid in these cases as neither appropriate nor feasible. Great difficulty arose in deciding whether a particular disability was directly attributable to a particular procedure, and in deciding what degree of disability was admissible.

He pointed out, however, the Royal Commission on Compensation and Civil Liberties was interested in this matter and was prepared to take evidence.

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So what has changed in the last 33 years under consecutive Labour and Conservative Governments following this very important debate?  Lord Ashley highlighted the problems reported by parents whose children suffered brain damage from the whooping cough element of the DTP vaccine. Jabs feels that the same debate could be held in Parliament today in that the same questions and assertions could be levelled at the Government's defence of the MMR vaccine. 

1974. He challenged the Department of Health and Social Security during an adjournment debate to deny that between 1,000 and 2,000 children in Britain had suffered brain damage for life as a result of the whooping cough vaccine.

2007. We could equally challenge the Department of Health to deny that more than 2000 children in the UK have suffered brain damage for life as a result of another triple vaccine, this time the MMR.

1974. Mr Ashley, who expressed full support for the general immunisation programme, said he wanted to tear aside the veil of obscurity which had shrouded the fate of thousands of children. He called for urgent action to reduce the risk of future tragedies and State compensation for those already injured.

2007. Since Lord Ashley, held the adjournment debate the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979 was passed into UK law. It has had a number of amendments over the years but still largely remains inaccessible to parents of vaccine damaged children. The veil of obscurity still applies. Parents are not warned that they are taking any serious risk with their child when a vaccine is due.

1974. "While I recognise the fear that my discussion of risks may impair the public's confidence in immunisation procedures, I believe it is time the conspiracy of silence was ended because too many young lives are being devastated."

2007. While the Department of Health is hellbent on maintaining public confidence in immunisation procedures it actively promotes "the conspiracy of silence" by down playing the risks involved and denying the children already damaged by vaccination. To add insult to injury many parents accounts of their children's vaccine damage are dismissed as mere anecdotes.

1974. "Tragedy for a child, heartbreak for her parents," said Mr Ashley. "Yet the Government and the medical profession have the insolence to discourage discussion of these effects."

2007. This tragedy is still occurring and is heartbreaking for thousands of families. The Government and the medical profession are not only insolent with anyone who dares to challenge the safety of vaccines but over recent years of the MMR controversy have actively discouraged the media from reporting parents' accounts.

1974. He said the Government's "shattering complacency" was revealed when the Parliamentary Secretary admitted in a written reply that the majority of adverse reactions were not reported. "The Minister has already admitted to me that the machinery for notification is not working properly. He is, therefore, conducting a national immunisation service without full knowledge of the terrible risks involved for some children."

2007. The Government is aware of the terrible risks involved for some children and is also aware that the monitoring system of adverse events, the passive 'yellow card' scheme, is known to collect only about 10% of serious side effects. They have done very little after 33 years to change this situation.

1974. The Government should take firmer measures to ensure that no child obviously at risk was vaccinated.

2007. The Government was asked to examine 1200 children believed to have been adversely affected by the MMR/MR vaccines back in 1997 in the hope that this could lead to a recognition of the damage itself and the creation of a screening mechanism which could identify those children obviously at risk. Unfortunately, these children were not given serious consideration and none were medically examined. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that the Government has little interest in improving measures to reduce vaccine damage.
















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