Saturday, 6 April 2013

why not give kids a measles vaccine in a measles outbreak?

measles outbreak:
Imagine: you go to the doctor because you have a bacterial infection. The doctor agrees to give you antibiotics, but the only remedy he can prescribe also contains medication for high blood-pressure and stomach ulcers, neither of which conditions you suffer from. Imagine further that the medications will be injected, meaning that once they’re in there they can’t be removed, unlike a course of tablets that can be discontinued.

This is analogous to the situation in south Wales, where in response to an outbreak of measles the government has set up a series of clinics offering the MMR vaccine, formulated to protect against measles, mumps and rubella.

Officials will continue to point out that the outbreak is due to declining uptake of the MMR vaccine, and they have a point. What we need to do, though, is look at why uptake is declining: the most obvious is the case made by Andrew Wakefield et al that MMR causes autism, amongst other conditions, in a significant minority of vaccinated children. His detractors – for example journalist Brian Deer, who accuses Wakefield of making up evidence – do not explain why The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical magazine, took 12 years to retract Wakefield’s 1998 article.

At the end of the day, though, this is not about personalities or politics. This is a measles epidemic. A single measles vaccine is available. However, NHS Direct says it’s not available on the NHS because of fears that "fewer children would receive all the necessary injections, increasing the levels of measles, mumps and rubella in the UK". Isn’t the measles outbreak an early warning that this is exactly what is happening because of the withdrawal of single vaccines from NHS doctors' prescription pads?

Charles Bond
300 words


Wales measles: 1,700 MMR jabs given at drop-in clinics -

About the MMR vaccine - NHS Direct

MMR vaccine side-effects 'not fully tested' - Daily Mail

Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children (Retracted) - Andrew Wakefield et al - The Lancet

How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed - Brian Deer - British Medical Journal (BMJ)

One example of an outlet for the single measles vaccine at

1 comment:

  1. With respect, I think that the analogy you give in your first sentence is a poor one. Besides, the initial refusal would - surely - have been of the protection of three diseases, each of which has the potential for disastrous consequences if contracted. Give the single measles vaccine at this late stage and the kids are still at risk of mumps and German measles. If I've got it wrong, please tell me.

    For myself, I would now be most resentful had my parents denied me the benifit of vaccination - such as were available 60 years ago. The benefits still outweighed the risks.