A rogue strain of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine has been proven to have caused deafness in at least two children, it has been claimed.

Katie Stephen, who lost the use of her left ear days after being inoculated as a child, is reportedly the first known victim to prove her case to the Vaccine Damage Payments Unit.

But the 21-year-old has been refused the £120,000 payout for vaccine injury because it is only given to people with 60% disablement, according to The Times.

The measure used by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to decide payouts defines single-sided deafness as 20% disablement. It comes after a second victim, who lost hearing in both ears, received compensation in a previous case, the paper said.

Are you deaf or in denial? Try Deafness Research UK's quiz. Simply respond to each question, keeping a tally on whether you answer mostly A, B or C

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  • <strong>The shop assistant has told you the price, but you didn't catch it. Do you: </strong> a. Hold out a handful of money and ask if that covers it b. Say brusquely, "speak up, you're mumbling!" c. Say, "I'm sorry, could you repeat that, I'm a bit deaf"

  • <strong>In an otherwise empty restaurant, the music is interfering with your conversation with a friend. Do you:</strong> a. Say to your friend, "just listen to that tune, it's one of my favourites!" b. Demand to speak to the manager and complain that the music is far too loud c. Explain that you're finding it hard to hear and ask the waiter politely if the music could be turned down

  • <strong>You see someone you know coming towards you on the same side of the street. Do you:</strong> a. Say a cheery hello, but say, "can't stop, busy day" b. Say "very well thank you!" you're sure they asked how you are.... c. Tell them about your hearing problems before stopping for a chat

  • <strong>Does your family constantly complain that you have the TV on too loud? Do you: </strong> a. Say that having the sound up loud simply added to the enjoyment b. Accuse the TV of being on the blink c. Say you'll investigate equipment to boost the sound of the TV just for you without spoiling your family's enjoyment

  • <strong>You're trying to talk to someone in a crowded room. Do you:</strong> a. Talk non-stop so the other person can't get a word in edgeways b. Say, "You should avoid parties, your voice is far too soft" c. Ask your companion to repeat themselves when you can't hear, or suggest you go to a quieter part of the room

  • <strong>Mostly As... You're a concealer</strong> You suspect you have a hearing loss, but you're going to make sure no one else knows about it. And you certainly aren't going to put one of those horrid little boxes on your ear. Life gets a bit tiring though and you know in your heart you miss out. Your attempts to hide your hearing loss probably aren't fooling anyone! Consider discussing the situation with your friends and family and think about what steps you could take - a problem shared is a problem halved. Contact our <a href="http://www.deafnessresearch.org.uk/content/how-we-help/advice-and-support/" target="_hplink">free advisory service</a> for practical information and support.

  • <strong>Mostly Bs You're a denier</strong> Hearing loss...you don't have one. It's people today, everyone mumbles. And they all have their music up too loud. And people in banks speak behind glass; so how can anyone be expected to hear? Whilst we all cope with hearing loss in our own way, it might be better to face up to the problem rather than trying to deny it. This might help you feel happier. For pointers on coping with hearing loss, contact our <a href="http://www.deafnessresearch.org.uk/content/how-we-help/advice-and-support/" target="_hplink">free advisory service</a>.

  • <strong>Mostly Cs... You are the winner</strong> You recognise you have a hearing loss. If you haven't been to your GP yet about getting a hearing aid, you're just about to. Meanwhile, you grapple with the difficulties of being hard of hearing and don't let it stop you leading a normal life. A hearing aid may not restore your hearing completely, but with an aid there'll be a lot of sounds you can hear again, and life will be a lot easier.

Miss Stephen's mother Wendy told The Times: "She wasn't born this way. This was done to her by the Department of Health. They distributed pamphlets arguing that this was the right thing to do for your child and not just that but the right thing to do for herd immunity in the UK against these three illnesses."

Paul Breckell, chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss, said: "We are disappointed that the formula used by the Vaccine Damage Payments Unit does not fully recognise the impact for Katie in completely losing the hearing in her left ear."

Miss Stephen, from Stonehaven, in Aberdeenshire, was 15 months old when she was given the inoculation in 1991.

A health visitor recorded hearing problems at 18 months old, although previous tests had been normal, and in 1996 she was diagnosed with deafness.


According to The Times, her medical records show that she was deafened by an MMR jab using the rogue Urabe strain of mumps, which was given to 5.4 million British children between 1988 and 1992.

In total, 10 cases of deafness after the jab were formally recorded at the time, the paper said.

An academic study found that the cause of deafness in six of those cases was unknown but MMR was a possibility, it added. Four of the suspect cases had single-sided deafness.

Asked why the industrial injuries measure was being used on vaccine-damaged children, a SWP spokeswoman said: "This is not in regulations - it was considered at the inception of the scheme that disablement should be assessed as a percentage similar to the system as applied in the War Pensions and Industrial Injuries Schemes."

She added: "The payments were set at the same level as the Industrial Injuries Benefit and does provide financial support to those eligible. Those who are eligible for this help may also be eligible for other support from the benefits system."

The Department of Health (DoH) stressed the importance of the MMR vaccine and said it had saved many lives.

Director of Immunisation Professor David Salisbury said: "It is important that parents get their child vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella - all of which are highly infectious. Uptake rates for the MMR vaccine are at their highest level for 10 years and it is the best way to protect children against all three infections."