Fear over MMR epidemic

by PAUL KENDALL, Daily Mail

Britain could face an epidemic of childhood diseases because a huge number of parents will not allow their children to have the controversial MMR jab.

Doctors warned yesterday that an explosion in cases of mumps, measles or rubella was a real possibility.

Figures from the Public Health Laboratory Service show that 13 per cent - almost one in six - of eligible children in England and Wales were not given the triple jab in the first three months of this year.

Immunisation levels have dropped by two per cent since December and may now be so low that just one case of measles could spark a widespread outbreak.

It is believed that in some parts of Britain 25 per cent of children have not been given the vaccine, which is administered at about two.

The Government says 95 per cent of children should receive the jab to eliminate the risk of an epidemic.

A British Medical Association spokesman said: 'This is extremely worrying. For the vaccination programme to work you need a certain level of coverage.

'When it falls below that level you risk the very serious effects of those diseases among children. People have to realise these illnesses can have very serious side-effects.'

Doctors warn that severe forms of measles can lead to critical illnesses in children, resulting in permanent damage or even death.

Mumps leads to painful swelling of the salivary glands, while unborn children can be harmed if their mothers come in contact with anyone infected with rubella.

But the vaccine has been linked to autism, bowel disease and other serious health problems. More than 2,000 parents say their child regressed and became autistic after being given it.

Many parents want single vaccines for mumps, measles and rubella, but the Government has so far refused to offer these.

Jackie Fletcher, founder of the vaccination awareness group JABS, said: 'Three jabs can be given over a longer period and give children the same protection as the MMR vaccine. But you can only get them if you pay for them privately.'

The Department of Health said: 'No link has been proven to exist between MMR and autism.'

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