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Doctors call for higher MMR take-up

Vaccine experts and pediatricians call for parents to take up the MMR vaccine to guard against growing measels outbreaks.

Posted: 27 June 2006
by Laura Lee Davies

A conference by the British Medical Association this week includes the release of an open letter from 30 pediatricians and vaccine experts, calling on the media and other health professionals to stop casting doubt over the safety of the MMR vaccine.

After a study was published in a medical journal in the late 1990s, which said there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, the numbers of parents taking up the vaccine (given at one year and then pre-school, to protect children against mumps, measels and rubella) have dropped dramatically.

Despite repeated government health reports claiming the link was not proven, and many studies internationally which suggest there is no clear risk, parent campaigners have had a marked affect on the number of children being vaccinated.

The take-up of this vaccine needs to be around 95 per cent of the child population to guard against a serious outbreak, but it is currently around 88 per cent and much lower in some areas.

Campaigners say there should be single vaccines for these illnesses, but the BMA and other experts believe that the delay caused by giving a course of seperate injections leaves small children exposed to serious and potentially fatal illnesses like measels, with single jabs offering no clear benefit.

The letter outlines the likelihood of increased incidences of measels outbreaks (which spread through unvaccinated groups but can then affect babies who are too young to have the initial jabs yet). So far this year there have been more cases of measels (which can cause brain damage) than there were in the whole of 2003.

For advice from the NHS, go to For the view of parent groups concerned about multiple vaccinations and certain particular injections, go to

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Discuss this story

Do you think parents should embrace the MMR vaccine or be wary of it?

Posted: 27/06/2006 at 12:53

There is so much conflicting information about MMR and bearing in mind that we live in a democracy, they should bring back the single injections.
What is worse no injection or the extra time to give the singles.
Mr Blair has never actually said where Leo had his injections and therefore we must assume that the rumour of single injections in France is right.

Posted: 10/07/2006 at 16:18

Our little girl will be getting her MMR when that time comes round. People forget how devastating measles, mumps and rubella can be as it's so rare these days.

The combined jab is no more or less effective than single jabs but the big advantages are less visits to the vaccination clinic, its safety and, let's be honest, it's cheaper. Given the efficacy and safety of the MMR jab as well as the price, I think the government is going to stick with it for clinical as much as financial reasons. If people really want the single jabs that much, why not go private?

Regardless of what certain newspapers say, the report which first cast doubts was discredited as the person who wrote it was being paid by people with an interest in bringing back the single jabs. Would you trust a paper from a scientist paid by the cigarette industry that said smoking was safe? Also, the paper did not find a link between autism and MMR. The writer of the paper said this after the paper was published.

MMR is without doubt the best possible protection you can get against three killer diseases.

Phew, don't start immunologists on the MMR controvery... :-)

Posted: 26/07/2006 at 16:49

Talkback: Doctors call for higher MMR take-up

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