With Dr David Ellerman
NHS immunisation co-ordinator for South London
Mike Challis
I have heard no mention of the theory that bashing a still developing immune system with a massive dose of vaccine very early in a childs life may possibly be a contibutory factor to the increasing number of asthmas etc. we are now seeing.
This is a question that many parents raise, but there is now evidence that giving the 3 vaccines together does not cause any more problems than giving them seperately. There is no evidence that any vaccination has contributed to the rise in asthma.
Gareth Jones
My son has already had his first MMR jab without apparent side effects. Does this mean he faces no risk when it comes to the booster?
One can never say that there is no risk of any side effects after any vaccine or medicine. However after the second dose of MMR there is even less risk of any reaction than after the first.
Roger Whitwam
What is the usual practice in USA, Canada and Australia?
These countries - like all those that can afford it - use 2 doses of the combined MMR. Some countries, for example France, do use the single measles vaccine for very young children attending nursery school. However, once they are over a year old they are given 2 doses of MMR as well.
G. Whichelo
Our 14 month child has quite a severe allergy to eggs. We have been told that she has to go to hospital to receive the MMR because of the egg protein in the injection. Do the single injections contain the egg protein?
The single measles and mumps vaccines do indeed contain very small quantities of egg protein. If a child has had a very severe allergic reaction to egg it is probably wise to have the MMR in hospital. A minor allergy to egg is not a problem.
Roger Jones
Question?What ultimately will change the Governments view point on this subject and see widespread access to single vaccinations. Or will we continue with this "steadfast" government's refusal to listen to its electorate,with concerned families being left distressed in this maelstrom of conflicting information?
The Government's policy - quite rightly in my view - is based upon scientific research. As this shows the MMR to be a safe and effective vaccine the govt wil continue to support its use, in line with all other govts and scientific bodies. I am saddened that Liam Fox is seeming to make a cheap political vote-grabbing point out of the concerns of parents
Leila Jordan
I wonder about the need for the mumps vaccine - surely it is better to try to manage this childhood disease (which my generation had) rather than trying to prevent it altogether
Before the introduction of the MMR vaccine, mumps was the commonest cause of virus meningitis and one of the causes of deafness in children. It also resulted in about 1200 admissions to hospital in the UK each year. So it is a serious illness that is worth preventing
Tim Walsh
There has undoutably been a huge increase in the number of autistic children. Around the world this increase seems to have coincided with the introduction of MMR. If MMR is not to blame then what? People, rightly or wrongly, do not trust government on safety right now. A suggested way forward is a major, high profile, research programme into the causes of the autism epidemic. If we find the cause then we can put the MMR in the clear.
The govt, through the Medical Research Council, has put aside some millions of pounds for research into the causes of autism. It is being taken very seriously.
Sarah Treder
As a parent of 3 children, the eldest of which has an autistic spectrum disorder I am in no way convinced that the MMR is linked to Autism. However I am also not prepared to take even the smallest risk. My other children have had vaccinations one at a time (I have a sympathetic GP) but for some reason she is not allowed to do this for MMR. To make it illegal to have the vaccinations separately is denial of human rights. I've heard the reasons for preferring the triple vaccine but not why parents cannot be given a choice?
I am sorry to hear you have a child with autism. There is now a lot of evidence that the combined MMR vaccine does not cause autism or Crohn's disease. However no research has been done to see if there may be a link between giiving the single vaccines at yearly intervals and Crohn's or autism. It would therefore seem sensible to use the MMR , rather than the seperate vaccine. The single vaccines have not been licensed for use in this country. This means we cannot guarantee their safety and effectiveness. Under those circumstances it would seem irresponsible for a health professional to advocate their use.
Julia Childs
Please can you tell me what is the mmr policy for children who have had nasty reactions to previous jabs?
There is no reason to think that someone who has had a nasty reaction to another immunisation should do likelwise with the MMR. The immunisations that children have under a year old are quite different to the MMR, so even if your child has had a reaction to one of the infant immunisations they can still have the MMR
Mick Jackson
My daughter had 3 jabs, one month between each, 18 months ago and my son is going through same process now. Where does your figure of 6 jabs over 3 years come from. Why is the pre-school booster suddenly id'd as the problem? What is protection level if the booster is missed or given as separate?
The main researcher at the Royal Free Hospital has suggested that there should be a year gap between each injection. He feels that a smaller gap does not remove the risks that he is concerned about. If you follow his advice it will take at least 5 years to receive the 6 injections. If only one measles or MMR injection is given about 10% of children will not be protected. This is why almost every country that uses MMR recomends 2 doses.
Paul Romeril
Further to your correspondent this morning who dismissed the dangers of a measles epidemic your researcher should check out the measles epidemic which occurred in parts of inner city Dublin earlier this year because of the decline of vaccination. It was reported that in addition to the deaths a number of children suffered serious permanent disablility as a consequence. These children suffer needlessly because of ill informed commentators who discouraged their parents from participation in the MMR scheme.
Your point is well taken. In the recent past we have seen outbreaks of measles in Dublin and the Netherlands which have resulted in the deaths of children. A proportion of the survivors have had to be admitted to intensive care units because they were so ill. It would be a pity if this were to become commonplace again because of an unfounded scare.
Ivan Woodhouse
One of your guests this morning quoted that Japan did not have MMR and cited the results of reverting to single vaccinations. He chose, for whatever reasons, not to explain why Japan did not have the MMR. Can you help?
Japan withdrew the combined MMR in 1993 because of concerns to do with the mumps component. The concern was not to do with it being a combined vaccine. So it was not as a result of any concerns to do with autism or Crohn’s disease. The experience in Japan of using measles and rubella vaccines separately has not been good in that they still have many deaths from measles whereas in the UK we have had none for the last 5 years.
Lynne Morris
What happens to young men in their teens and early twenties once the effects of their MMR jabs wear off? Are injections available to them for the rest of their lives? The relationship between Mumps and impotency in men are very well known.
The experience of the vaccines is that protection lasts over 20 years. As time goes on there is no evidence that this protection wears off. Monitoring, however, will continue indefinitely to ensure that there is no need for any further injections. As I said before, experience has shown that reducing the overall incidence of German measles is more effective at preventing damage to babies than is just immunising girls or women.
C. Merryweather
How can we trust the BBC’s reporting of this subject when the BBC is itself state owned? The government's message is obvious and their desperation to push it increasingly so. You never even questioned who funded that Finnish study - an essential piece of information. Put it this way - would you attribute more or less credibility to a report on lung cancer if it was funded by a tobacco company? I'm disappointed in you.
The aim of the BBC is the aim of any good researcher: to present the facts of any study so that the reader can draw their own conclusions. In this way it becomes much less important who funds the study. Almost all medical journals now will declare what are called "conflicts of interest", so the source of funding will be obvious. The reality is that these studies are very expensive and the main sources of funding will be the Government, manufacturers and major charities.
Christine Lee
Yesterday you reassured parents that a study of 2 million children from Finland, who received MMR, proved no link with autism or inflammatory bowel disease. I have read the paper and this claim is nonsense. In the 8-page paper, the words autism and inflammatory bowel disease appear only once towards the end of the Discussion. If 2 million children were observed for 14 years, why did they not observe a single child with either condition?
It must be concluded that the study is flawed.
The Finnish survey was looking at links between Crohn’s disease and autism and the MMR vaccine. The survey was not looking at the overall pattern of autism or Crohn’s Disease. This is why there are no cases reported in this survey
Jon Strong
If we are living in a society in which the majority of people have been vaccinated either with MMR or with separate vaccines the the assumption of puuting pregnant mothers at risk doesn't hold.
if you arguments are so weak in terms of the assumptions they are based on why should we as the general "ill educated non-medical" population believe your assertions over the safety of the MMR vaccination and the quality of the scientific basis and assumptions underlying the vaccine safety tests?
Experience in the USA - where they have used the combined MMR for over 25 years as opposed to rubella vaccine given to 12 yr-old girls, has shown this to be a much more effective strategy. this is why the UK and most of Europe changed over to using MMR in 1988. This has produced a greater reduction in the number of children born damaged by German Measles.