Westmeath babies used in vaccine trials

At least 29 of the children who were used as guinea pigs during controversial vaccine trials between 1960 and 1970 were based in Westmeath, it has been revealed.Trials carried out between December 1960 and 1961 involved 58 children in five children’s homes across Ireland; six of the children were at the mother and baby home at St. Peter’s, Castlepollard.These first trials put the “four-in-one” vaccine to the test, in an attempt to determine the outcome of combining vaccines against four illnesses - diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio.The trials came to light last week after one US-based Irish woman revealed an ongoing legal battle, which started after she discovered that she was subjected to the vaccine trials as a baby, without the consent of her birth mother.The second test involving children in Westmeath took place in 1970, and involved 23 children living at home in the Killucan area, who were administered the intra-nasal rubella (German measles) vaccine.The trial of the Wistar RA 27/3 vaccine was later the subject of a research article published in the Cambridge Journal of Hygiene in 1971, entitled ‘Trials of Intranasally administered Rubella Vaccine’.The article said that tests in the Midlands took place “during the 1970 school summer holidays”, and that “stringent precautions were taken to avoid any possible infection of a pregnant woman from a vaccinated child”.

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