The MMR outcasts

by BEEZY MARSH, Daily Mail

Children who have not had the MMR jab should be denied entry to nursery school, a leading doctor urged yesterday.

He said Britain should follow the example of America to avoid the risk of a measles epidemic.

National MMR uptake has dropped to 84.2 per cent - the level at which the threat of an epidemic becomes a real risk.

Last night it emerged that nurseries are to warn parents when the number of children in their care with the MMR vaccination falls below the level needed to prevent an outbreak.

The National Day Nurseries Association will ask its members this week to alert parents. Karen Walker, strategic director of the NDNA, said: 'That then gives parents the opportunity to decide if they want to take their child out of the nursery school.'

A cluster of measles has emerged in North London, following outbreaks linked to nurseries in South London and Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

A total of 45 suspected or confirmed cases have been detected nationally. Now GP Dr Mustafa Kapasi, a member of the British Medical Association's GP committee, has backed the U.S. system of making MMR a requirement for starting nursery or school.

Dr Kapasi, who works at a surgery in Greenock, near Glasgow, said: 'What we don't want is some kids getting measles and affecting the education of other children.'

However, there are no plans to introduce the U.S. policy in Britain. A BMA spokesman said: 'We would not want parents to feel they were being forced into something.'

Ministers and medical experts insist that the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is safe.

But public confidence in the jab has fallen amid concerns over a possible link to a bowel disorder and autism.

Pleas for single vaccines on the NHS have been refused because the Government fears that parents would not complete the course of six jabs. The Chief Medical Officer also believes single vaccines leave children unprotected for longer.

Ministers may launch a major drive to rebuild confidence in MMR. Radio and TV adverts are being tested.

Last night pressure groups including Action against Autism and the Autism Research Unit, said Government campaign was 'madness'. They said 'no amount of advertising' will alter parents' perception of MMR.