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Tuesday 25th October 2016

MMR vaccine is safe to use

29th June 2006

30062006_BabyVaccination1.jpgA group of Britain's leading child health and vaccine experts has warned that more children will die unless a line is drawn under the autism and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine controversy.

In an open letter, 30 scientists, including some of the country's most eminent child health experts, say that an overwhelming body of evidence shows the vaccine is safe. They add that urgent immunisations are necessary to prevent potentially devastating outbreaks among schoolchildren.

The warning comes as England faces its biggest measles outbreak in 20 years, fuelled by the refusal of some parents to have their children immunised because of now discredited claims linking the MMR jab and autism.

The letter, whose signatories include Patricia Hamilton, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and Professor Sir David Hall, a paediatrician at Sheffield University, said the “UK’s children are in danger of serious illness or death if they are left unimmunised.?

This month, the Health Protection Agency reported 449 cases of measles so far this year - more in just six months than the 438 reported cases in 2003. In 2005, there were only 77 reported cases.

Confidence in the MMR vaccine slumped in 1998 when a team led by Andrew Wakefield at the Royal Free hospital, north London, published research in the Lancet on bowel disease and autism. Dr Wakefield later suggested that there might be a link between autism and the MMR jab. He now faces professional misconduct charges brought by the General Medical Council.

In the letter, the scientists raise concerns that many children born during the height of the MMR scare are now set to enter schooling without immunisation.

Although immunisation rates are rising, they are still below the 95 per cent level the World Health Organisation says is needed for ‘herd immunity’. A year ago MMR uptake stood at 83 per cent in the UK.


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