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Government knew of MMR risk

5th March 2007

The freedom of information act has revealed that the government had evidence of a link between Urabe MMR and encephalitis.

The debate over a potential link between MMR and autism has been widely reported but newly released documents show that Whitehall knew of evidence to suggest a link between MMR and encephalitis which was not revealed to the public.  

In 1987 the Thatcher government approved Urabe MMR for mass vaccination despite reports of adverse reactions to the jab in the USA and Sweden. It has also been revealed that 15 government experts held a meeting in 1988 during which a report was read indicating that cases of mumps encephalitis had been associated with MMR vaccines containing the Urabe strain of the mumps virus.  Armed with this knowledge, the government launched ahead with the immunisation programme using the Urabe MMR vaccine.  It took four years for Britain to stop injecting children with Urabe MMR and replace it with MMR2 which contains a less potent form of the mumps virus.

Mass immunisation with the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine began in Britain in October 1988. It was only as more and more alarming cases of children suffering encephalitis began emerging from around the world that the government was forced to withdraw the Urabe strain of the vaccine and replace it with the more expensive MMR2 jab.  The debate over whether MMR2 has any links to autism continues.

 

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