Vaccine Horror -
When That '1 In A
Million' Is Your Child
By Iain Laing
They always tell you that it is one in a million...but statistics don't matter if you are that 'one in a million.' For 20 years, doctors did not link the whooping cough vaccinations with brain damage but now talks have started to discuss compensation for children damaged by the vaccines intended to prevent harm. Iain Laing spoke to one mother whose son suffered disabling consequences following a vaccination. Like every mother, Ella Stephenson wanted to do all she could to protect her baby from diseases. She trusted her doctor's advice and, along with every other mother she knew, took her 11-month-old son Ian for a whooping cough jab to keep him healthy.
But within seconds of him receiving the injection she knew something had gone wrong.
"His eyes were rolling, he was waving his arms around and then for days after that he was very pale and quiet. Then every few weeks he would have a fit," said Ella, of Tanfield, County Durham.
"He got worse. For five months he was just apathetic. He just lay in his cot. The doctors did not know what was wrong. They said it would pass.
''At first I believed he would recover. You have to."
But Ian did not get better. The vaccination left him severely brain-damaged and epileptic. He was never able to talk, walk easily or feed himself.
He died last month, aged 43. An inquest found his death was a direct result of the disabilities caused by the jab.
It confirmed what Ella, 69, had known since the vaccination, but for years doctors did not accept there were side-effects of inoculations in some youngsters.
"At first I took him to the doctor and he said it was just teething.
"He had been healthy before and because we were living in the East End of London then and there were many diseases around our doctor advised us to get him inoculated.
"My husband Ken had his doubts. It was quite new then. But I thought it would be safe.
"I went to the hospital and the paediatrician thought it was something which would pass. I knew it was the vaccination because it had happened so immediately.
"We didn't know until there was more research and we read about other children with the same problems.
"They always tell you it is only one in a million but statistics don't matter if you are that one in a million."
Unlike every other mother, Ella is pleased she survived her only child.
"I knew it would happen sometime. But it was a shock when it did. I had just taken him his breakfast and I found him dead," she said.
"I am relieved he died before I did. I never wanted him to be an orphan and have to go into a nursing home. He would have suffered from being alone. He would have been so unhappy. But I wished he had lived a little bit longer."
Ian was one of hundreds of children born since 1956 for whom preventative injections had far more shattering consequences than the diseases they were intended to repel.
It was 20 years before the medical profession and the Government confirmed the risks of injecting children with certain vaccines. And now, another 20 years down the line, the Government has just opened talks with the giant pharmaceutical companies which make vaccines to negotiate compensation for the parents of children whose lives have been wrecked by them.
If the current talks are successful it will be the first time drug companies have directly helped the children who suffered brain damage as a result of being injected with their products.
The cost of caring for a disabled relative 24-hours a day is a high one for parents, financially as well as emotionally, and it is hoped the new compensation deal will give parents the respite help they need.
For librarian Ella and her college principal husband, who died three years ago, the severity of Ian's disability meant he could not be left alone.
Luckily, they could afford carers to watch Ian for the few hours a day they were away and the couple have never had to spend any of the £10,000 compensation they won in 1978.
But when Ian was aged 15, doctors said he would only live another 10 years and the couple lived with the fear he may die at any moment.
"Before the vaccination he was beginning to say words like mamma and dadda. Later he could only recognise some words like bath or garden. But he could not speak.
"He would clap his hands if he wanted anything. He could sometimes walk a little way on his own. But he was very cautious. Most of the time he would just sit quietly or play with his toys. He was happy. He would always be smiling. But the brain-damage was very severe.
"He needed a lot of care. We needed to be near in case he had a fit. My husband bought a flat near Beamish Adult Education College, where he worked, so he could be near him.
"We also paid for carers to come and look after him when we worked.
"We could take him to a day centre sometimes so we could go to the shops. And we had to leave him in hospital for a few days when I went back to Finland to visit my parents. But that was not often. I did not like to leave him."
Ella has never been bitter about what happened to her son but she does believe more should be done to help other parents in the same position.
"It is very difficult when you do not know what is wrong with your child. Now the Government knows and they are giving compensation.
"But the companies who make profits from selling vaccines should help too and more should be done so parents know the risk."


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