A JAB IN THE DARK
Extract from an article in The Independent, 12/11/96, by Dina Rabinovitch.
Dr Philip Monk is immunisation Co-ordinator for Leicestershire, where he also runs a vaccine helpline. He explained that there are two reasons for introducing the MMR booster. "The first one is that the MMR 'takes' in nine out of 10 children. So in order to catch the one of 10 for whom it has not been effective, we give the booster. The second reason for the booster is that within the field of vaccine research it has become clear that if you administer a vaccine and then measure for antibodies, five years later a minority of the recipients will no longer have antibodies to the disease and 10 years later many more will be without antibodies. So by and large, 10 years seems to be the time the vaccine lasts."
Most adults over 40 in this country, he added, will have been exposed to measles as children, so are therefore immune. "So what are we trying to do now is protect the age group we believe to be most susceptible, the 0-10 year olds." But what about when those four-year-olds reach 14 and immunity possibly ends? I asked. Won't they then be exposed to childhood illnesses at an age when it could be more serious? By that time, he replied, doctors assume the diseases will have been eradicated - but they don't know for sure. "And," he continued, 'just to confuse the picture, in recent years, evidence has been emerging that you may still be immune to a disease even though you have no detectable antibodies."
Editor - Regarding the 'antibody' theory the fallacy of this was exposed nearly 50 years ago, which is hardly recent. A report published by the Medical Research Council entitled 'A study of diphtheria in two areas of Gt. Britain, Special report series 272, HMSO 1950 demonstrated that many of the diphtheria patients had high levels of circulating antibodies, whereas many of the contacts who remained perfectly well had low antibody