The High Court has been told that the State has an obligation to compensate those who are injured as a result of being vaccinated in a public health vaccination scheme.

The claim was made by lawyers for a 24-year-old man who is suing the former Southern Health Board, the State and a GP who vaccinated him against measles when he was just over one year old.

Lawyers for Alan O'Leary from Ballyphehane in Cork say he suffered serious brain injury from the vaccine which should not have been administered to him.

The court heard there was no precedent in Irish law for such a liability on the part of the State and the court was being asked to recognise a liability that had not been recognised before.

Senior Counsel John White for Mr O'Leary said the vaccine was being promoted by the State and parents were being told it was safe.

He said there was pressure on the State to achieve a 95% uptake of the vaccine.

He said that was a good objective but it had consequences for the responsibility of the State.

Mr White said the State must have responsibility for those who are injured when the vaccine does not turn out to be safe in circumstances which are few and far between.

He said he would be arguing vaccination was a good thing but there was an obligation on the State to compensate where something goes wrong.

Mr White said that Mr O'Leary had a family history of epilepsy and febrile convulsions and was a person for whom the risk of serious adverse effects arising from the administration of the vaccine should have been known by the defendants.

Mr O'Leary's lawyers claim that the vaccination was performed without the full and informed consent of his mother.

They also claim Mr O'Leary was waiting for a specialist paediatric opinion because he had signs of developmental delay and neurological disorder and this was another reason he should never have been given the vaccine.

Mr O'Leary suffers from hyperactivity, intellectual deficit, severe learning difficulties and motor and speech problems.

The defendants deny all the claims. They also say any problems suffered by Mr O'Leary relate to a condition he had before the vaccine was administered.