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Wednesday, 27 December, 2000, 15:10 GMT
Private Member's Bill on measles jabs
MMR jab
The combined vaccine is given to toddlers
An MP is trying to force the Government to back single vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella by introducing a Private Member's Bill.

Julie Kirkbride, Conservative MP for Bromsgrove in the West Midlands, was placed reasonably highly on a ballot of backbench MPs.

It is important that ministers listen to the case as there is a growing problem of parents choosing not to give their children the MMR jab

Julie Kirkbride MP
This means she in theory could have Parliamentary time to introduce a Bill of her choice before her colleagues.

At the moment, only the combined MMR vaccine is available in the UK, but some parents fear that it could be linked with autism and bowel disorders, despite large-scale studies finding no link.

They want doctors to give separate vaccines against the three infections, but the Department of Health has refused to give them.

Gaps between vaccinations

It claims the gaps between vaccinations might leave children vulnerable to infections.

Ms Kirkbride, who has a two-month-old son, believes parents have been scared off the MMR jab by publicity surrounding the health scare.

The percentage of children vaccinated against all three infections has dropped from 92% to 88% over the past decade.

Scientists are worried that any further fall could mean a return to the days of measles epidemics, which could leave a few children brain damaged, or even dead.

Ms Kirkbride said: "It is important that ministers listen to the case as there is a growing problem of parents choosing not to give their children the MMR jab, creating an even bigger problem for public health with the possible outbreak of a measles epidemic."

A Department of Health spokesman said there was no scientific evidence that separating the vaccines was any safer.

While the Vaccination of Children (Parental Choice) Bill has a theoretical chance of becoming law, the likelihood of a General Election in the spring, which reduces available Parliamentary time, makes this highly unlikely.

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See also:

10 Apr 00 | Health
Fresh MMR autism link rejected
13 Sep 00 | Health
Child vaccine warning
03 Apr 00 | Health
Vaccine 'does not cause autism'
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