Top doc hits back over jab safety

Jackie Fletcher, founder and national co-ordinator of JABS, with her disabled son Robert
Jackie Fletcher, founder and national co-ordinator of JABS, with her disabled son Robert

A SENIOR medic has dismissed calls for a re-think over the safety of the MMR jab.

Dr Paul Turner, a leading regional consultant in public health, said that an Italian court’s ruling that a nine-year-old’s autism was caused by the triple vaccine did not prove a link.

In fact he said that he had no hesitation in having his own son inoculated this way as it remains the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

Pressure group Jabs, founded by Haydock mum Jackie Fletcher, had this week seized on news from a court in Rimini which awarded young Valentino Bocca £140,000 damages, with the history-making statement that the MMR vaccine - manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and widely used in Britain - had been responsible for making him autistic.

The medical establishment has long held up numerous reports from around the world that conclude that MMR is not to blame for cases of autism and other conditions such as Crohn’s disease.

But Mrs Fletcher, whose 20-year-old son was recently awarded compensation by the Vaccine Damage Unit after it agreed that MMR had caused the seizure which left him severely disabled as a toddler, says that the Italian ruling cannot be ignored.

Shadow Health Secretary and Leigh MP Andy Burnham says he will be referring the case to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, describing it as potentially a “significant development” and will be having a meeting with Mrs Fletcher to discuss the matter.

Referring to his own time running the NHS, he said: “We only ever act on medical evidence and if that evidence changes then we have an obligation to look at an issue again.”

But Dr Turner issued a robust defence of the triple vaccine. He said: “The case of Valentino Bocca is tragic. However, this of itself does not prove a link between Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

“The balance of scientific evidence is that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

“On a more personal note, when the controversy regarding MMR was at its height, I had no hesitation in ensuring that my son was given his MMR immunisations as this was and still is the best way to protect him. 

“We have seen outbreaks of measles in the North West and other parts of the country in recent months. 

“MMR immunisation remains the best way for parents to protect their children against the risks associated with three diseases that can be very serious and, in the case of measles, can cause death.”