Renewed support for children to be immunised with the MMR vaccine came today (Friday, 12 January) from the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association.
The CPHVA, which represents 18,000 health visitors and community nurses, said it was essential that parents continued to support the MMR vaccination programme "as mumps, measles and rubella are still deadly diseases for babies and infants".
The CPHVA’s Director, Jackie Carnell said: "The CPHVA is satisfied, at this moment in time, that there is no link between MMR with serious adverse reactions."
New research from Finland, covering a 14-year period between 1982-96, has shown that three million vaccine doses of MMR only produced a possible incidence of serious adverse reactions linked with the MMR vaccination of 3.2 per 100,000 doses.
Ms Carnell said that the length of the study and the numbers vaccinated made a convincing case that the chances of an adverse reaction in the UK were "infinitesimal".
Ms Carnell said:
"The CPHVA recognises there is a problem in trying to allay the growing public perception, fuelled by headline grabbing media coverage, that there is a risk with MMR.
However, there is no research currently available to suggest that having the injections by single dose vaccines is less of a risk than having the combined MMR vaccination. But what we do know is that there is a risk that parents would not bring their children for all of the single dose injections. The delay between single dose injections would give a longer period of time when children would be unprotected against these diseases.
The CPHVA welcomes the Department of Health’s move to increase the range of information available to healthcare professionals on the MMR issue to ensure that evidence-based advice is given to parents. Within living memory polio, diphtheria and tuberculosis were major ‘killers’ in the UK. Vaccination was the only means by which these scourges were eradicated."
Ms Carnell warned: "The last time there was a measles epidemic in Britain in 1988, there were 86,000 reported cases, resulting in 16 deaths. We must avoid a repetition of this scale of outbreak in the future; and vaccination is the best – and only - defence."