A recent Italian ruling has reignited the debate over the controversial MMR jab and its potential links with autism. An Italian court held that nine-year old Valentino Bocca’s autism was provoked by the MMR jab he was given when he was fifteen months old. His parents have been awarded £140,000 in their case against the Italian Ministry of Health and may also be paid an additional £800,000 in their civil action against the Italian government.
This is encouraging news for anti-MMR vaccine campaigners, including JABS, a Wigan-based support group for vaccine damaged children. The founder of JABS, Jackie Fletcher, whose 20-year-old son was recently awarded £90,000 in compensation by the Government’s Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme after it agreed that MMR had caused severe brain damage, says that the Italian ruling cannot be ignored.
The Bocca’s lawyer Loca Ventaloro explained last week that the ruling in this case ‘is very significant for Britain which uses, and has used, an MMR vaccine with the same components as the one given to Valentino. It is wrong for governments and their health authorities to exert strong pressure on parents to take children for the MMR jab while ignoring that this vaccine can cause autism and linked conditions.’
However, there is still no medical evidence that shows that the MMR jab and autism can be intrinsically linked. The Department of Health has insisted ‘MMR remains the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella. It is recognised by the World Health Organisation as having an outstanding safety record and there is a wealth of evidence showing children who receive the MMR vaccine are no more at risk of autism than those who don’t.’
Whilst the impact of this Italian ruling on English law is uncertain, it would be fair to say that the debate over this controversial issue is far from over.
By Juliet Anderson