Peter Hitchens

If MMR is safe, why the lies and paranoia?

It is the bilious, intolerant spite of the MMR cultists that sustains my doubts about the triple immunisation.

Each time I have begun to think that maybe the injection is safe, the pro-MMR lobby have revived my fears with some act of crass totalitarianism.

Do they really think that persecuting Dr Andrew Wakefield with allegations of gross misconduct will convince a single perplexed parent that he is wrong? If their case is so good, can't they afford to smile indulgently when it is criticised?

I have no idea if the MMR is safe or not.

My position has always been that parents are entitled to be treated with respect when they worry about their children and that the NHS, for which we all pay very heavily and which is not a gift from on high, should provide whatever sort of jabs those parents desire for their children.

What keeps me worried is the flat refusal of the authorities and their allies to grasp this simple point.

If any medics dare to doubt them, then they are accused of misconduct.

Attempts are also made to spread unjustified panic about measles, a disease which is not a major menace in an advanced country.

Measles, in rare circumstances, can, of course, be serious. But in most cases it isn't.

Some years ago much was made of two deaths from measles in Dublin.

I tracked down the cases and found both children were already seriously ill before they contracted measles.

But I was able to find this out only because of the openness of the Irish authorities.

When a measles death was reported in Britain a few months ago, I was refused further information on the phoney grounds of 'confidentiality'. I was not planning to reveal the child's identity - only his general medical state - and the officials involved knew this.

Creepier still was the carefully organised and mysterious attempt to scare me in to silence by sending me phoney letters from non-existent mothers claiming their children had nearly died because of my columns.

Supposedly, the invented mothers had not given their children the MMR because they had read my articles, and the fictional children had then been seriously ill.

Who knows who was responsible for this poisonous stuff? All I can say with certainty is that they were not amateurs.

So, to the supporters of MMR, I offer this free advice.

If you wish to calm our doubts and fears, start by accepting that they are understandable and genuine. I have reason to believe these doubts are shared among the most powerful people in the country, not a million miles from Downing Street itself.

Then remember who it is who pays your wages.

As in so many other things, the State must grasp this simple point - that it exists for our benefit, not the other way round.