Press Release Press Release Press Release

22nd January 2001


Joint press release issued on behalf of:
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Nursing
Community Practitioners & Health Visitors Association
Faculty of Public Health Medicine

Our specialists in immunisation have studied the recent paper by Drs Wakefield and Montgomery with great care. They are in agreement with the statement of the Chairmen of the Joint Committee on Immunisation and Vaccination and the Committee on Safety of Medicine, namely that the paper adds little to current knowledge.

Our professional confidence in the MMR vaccine, its safety and effectiveness remains fully justified. Contrary to what is suggested by the authors there is a large body of evidence showing that the combined vaccine is highly effective and serious side effects are uncommon. The specific suggestions that MMR causes either inflammatory bowel disease or autism have been well researched in recent years by independent scientists. No association has been found and we remain convinced of the safety and effectiveness of MMR vaccine.

In contrast, the suggested alternative of giving single vaccines instead of MMR is untried and of unproven safety and effectiveness. No research has been conducted to ensure that this regimen does not give rise to side effects such as bowel disorders or autism. It would subject a toddler to extra injections, without good reason and experience has shown that the more complicated and prolonged a course of treatment is, the less likely it is to be completed. At best using single antigens would leave many more children unprotected for extended periods and would raise the likelihood of epidemics of measles, mumps and rubella (german measles). This would inevitably result in unnecessary suffering for children, the birth of babies damaged by rubella and some deaths.

As professionals intimately involved in the long term care of children, as well as in the immunisation programme, we wholeheartedly endorse the current policy of using the combined MMR vaccine. We will ensure that parents receive all the facts so that they can make an informed decision and act in the best interests of their children.


Press Contacts:
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health - Len Tyler: 020 7307 5604
Royal College of Nursing - Press Office: 020 7647 3633
Royal College of General Practitioners - Sarah Egan: 020 7344 3136
Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association - Shaun Noble: 020 7939 7043
Faculty of Public Health Medicine - Lou Allcoat: 0207 935 0035