Calls for closure to vaccine scandal
FIONA GARTLAND, Irish Times
Fri, Aug 20, 2010
The Government must bring closure to victims of the
vaccine scandals of the 1960s and 1970s, Fine Gael Deputy Denis Naughten
The call came after it emerged that a woman adopted from
Ireland in 1961, who was involved in a vaccine trial as a baby without
the permission of her mother, is to take legal action against the drugs
Mari Steed (50), who now lives in the US, is to take
action along with three others against Glaxosmithkline, known as
"The Wellcome Foundation" at the time the trials were
Ms Steed was administered the experimental vaccine while
at the Sacred Heart Convent, Bessborough, Co Cork between December 1960
and October 1961 when she was between nine and 18 months old. She is
also to bring legal action against the Sacred Heart Order in the Irish
courts, according to the Irish
Her mother has said she never gave permission for her
child to be involved in the vaccine trial.
A report published by the Department of Health in 2000
showed that at least 211 children in homes and orphanages were given
test vaccines during three separate drug trials. It was referred to the
Laffoy Commission on Child Abuse by the Government, but the commission's
investigation into the trials was stopped following court action taken
by the medical practitioners involved.
It is understood that none of the children who were given
the experimental vaccine were damaged by it.
Mr Naughten said Ms Steed's experience highlighted
"one of the dark stories" behind the vaccine scandals of the
1960s and 1970s.
"The Government must make all of the information it
has on the vaccine trails and the background to the trials
available," he said.
It must also apologise to those who were "treated as
guinea pigs", he said.
Mr Naughten also called on the Government to arrange
compensation for children who were damaged by the State vaccine
programme administered in the 1960s and 1970s.
Some infants experienced severe adverse reactions to the
3-in-1 DPT state vaccination programme at that time, including brain
Mr Naughten said Minister for Health Mary Harney must
belatedly act on the report Vaccine Damage Steering Group, which
proposed a mechanism to support those who were profoundly brain damaged
by the State vaccination programme.
"These victims in their 30s and early 40s have been
left without many of the supports they require, and their elderly
parents have been forced to fight for even the most basic
services," he said.
"It is about time we take moral responsibility and
acknowledge that what went on in the past was wrong. We now need to take
care of those who were damaged by State-promoted vaccination programmes
rather than trying to hide the truth away in a dark corner."
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