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MMR campaigner from Warrington wins £90,000 payout

Jackie and Robert Fletcher
Image caption Robert has frequent epileptic fits, is unable to talk, stand unaided or feed himself

The mother of a Cheshire teenager who was left severely brain damaged by the MMR vaccine has won a compensation award from the government.

Robert Fletcher, 18, from Warrington, suffered a fit 10 days after he had the vaccination when he was 13 months old.

His mother Jackie received the £90,000 payout from a medical assessment panel last week.

The family successfully appealed after their application for compensation was originally turned down in 1997.

They had originally applied through the Government's Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme.

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

'Outstanding safety record'

Mrs Fletcher always believed that her son's epilepsy was triggered by the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

The ruling and compensation award was made by a jury made up of a judge and two doctors.

It said the ruling had no relevance to the question of a link between the vaccine and autism.

Dr Andrew Wakefield was the lead author of the controversial study, published in The Lancet in 1998, which suggested there may be a link between MMR and autism and bowel disease.

His comments and the subsequent media furore led to a sharp drop in the number of children vaccinated against these diseases.

Image caption Robert Fletcher received the vaccine when he was 13 months old

The study has since been discredited and The Lancet has said it should not have run it.

Mrs Fletcher has campaigned for justice for her son for the past 16 years.

She said: "I feel vindicated by it because over the years I've been labelled anti-vaccine and a scaremonger and all sorts of things, when all I've been trying to do is highlight what's happened to my son, to help safeguard other parents' children.

"What I'm hoping now is that other parents whose children have suffered a similar reaction to Robert can maybe go down the same route that we've gone down to achieve justice for their children."

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

"The safety of MMR has been endorsed through numerous studies in many countries. Thankfully, more parents are having their children vaccinated with MMR and consider it as safe as other childhood vaccines."

He added: "MMR vaccine has been used extensively and safely around the world for over 30 years. Over 500 million doses have been given in over 100 countries.

"The World Health Organisation recognises MMR as being a 'highly effective vaccine which has (such) an outstanding safety record'.

"Parents and carers should continue to get their children immunised when called to do so."

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