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Sunday, 25 February, 2001, 01:04 GMT
Single measles jab call from GPs
MMR vaccine
GPs feel single jab might be the only way to protect some children
More than four out of ten GPs want to see single vaccines available as an alternative to the MMR, according to a new survey.

They believe offering the single jab, withdrawn from the NHS by ministers, might be the only way to get some parents to agree to get their child vaccinated.

The poll by the medical magazine Pulse shows many GPs believe single jabs for measles, mumps and rubella should be available on the NHS.

Of those quizzed, 15% said they would be prepared to administer the jab to children contrary to Medicine Control Agency advice.


Single vaccines are available in other countries so we should be having the choice too

Jackie Fletcher, from the JABS campaign

Most GPs said they considered the MMR jab to be safe and 80% of GPs questioned said they would be happy to administer it to their own child; 17% said they would allow their child the jab with trepidation, but 3% said their child would not get the MMR.

Blood tests

Pulse found that a quarter of GPs felt the government had not proved that MMR could not cause autism, although they believed ministers should be explaining to patients how difficult it is to prove this.

More than a third of the GPs questioned said they felt parents would be given the option of blood tests on the NHS before their child's MMR booster to see whether it is necessary.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, of the British Medical Associations GP committee said doctors are facing a dilemma over the MMR.

Dr Hamish Meldrum
Dr Hamish Meldrum says GPs have a dilemma

He said that although most of them believe the vaccine is safe they face a dilemma over whether to give the parents who refuse MMR a single vaccine.

Confidence

Dr Meldrum said: "It is a very difficult problem I don't think there is an easy answer.

"The problem is one of confidence. If people refuse the MMR but will have the single vaccine then it is obviously better than nothing."

He said some parents were wary about accepting government advice following the BSE and beef saga, but said he still believes MMR is the best option for children.

"It is difficult for parents to follow whether it is safe. It is particularly difficult to believe it is safe particularly after BSE where they might feel they have been conned in the past," he added.

Jackie Fletcher, national co-ordinator of the campaign group Jabs, said she was delighted GPs were taking the wishes of parents seriously.

"Single vaccines are available in other countries so we should be having the choice too. It is just the Department of Health who say we can't have the vaccine," she said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said they continue to support the MMR rather than a single jab, believing it is best for the child.

She said: "There is no scientific evidence to support the safety and efficacy of giving the MMR as three separate vaccines.

"The UK has never recommended three separate vaccines rather than MMR.

"Separating vaccines puts children's lives at risk," she said.

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22 Feb 01 | Health
New concern over MMR
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