Measles – a killer on the way back
21:00 GMT, 1 September 2012
There were almost twice as many measles cases in England and Wales in the first six months of 2012 as in the same period last year, according to Health Protection Agency figures.
This implies parents may still worry about the MMR vaccination, more than a decade after false claims about its safety were first raised.
The measles virus: Parents may still worry about the MMR vaccination, more than a decade after false claims about its safety were first raised
Why is measles on the rise
This is unclear. Vaccination rates are now high at 93 per cent in England and Wales. In 2002, rates were less than 80 per cent. However, the cases may be in older children and teenagers who missed vaccines due to the scandal a decade ago.
Is there a legal obligation on parents to vaccinate their children
No, but there is an ethical one. Measles kills and causes brain damage. As this is preventable, it could be considered negligent not to accept this protection for children. The higher the rates of vaccination, the better the so-called ‘herd immunity’ – this protects everyone, including those who cannot be vaccinated due to health risks.
How can you be sure the MMR jab is not linked to autism
The original paper suggesting a link between MMR and autism was discredited and its author had his licence to practise as a doctor removed. Since his flawed publication, there has been a substantial body of scientific evidence that proves MMR does not cause autism.
The science has shown that autism diagnoses were on the rise in the UK before the introduction of MMR and even after withdrawing the use of MMR – as in Japan – autism continued to rise. Research has also proven symptoms of autism do not suddenly appear in children following vaccination with MMR and the rates of autism here and in the USA do not tally with the rates of vaccination.
Is it too much for a child’s immune system to cope with all the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) viruses
This idea, used to scare people away from the combined vaccine, is a myth. Responding to the MMR viruses uses only a tiny proportion of a baby’s immune system.
Dr Peter English, editor of Vaccines In Practice, explains: ‘When you brush your teeth or graze a knee, you get more substances in the bloodstream than with any vaccine. The immune system copes with this perfectly well.’