Friday, September 4, 1998 Published at 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
MMR leaflets seek to reassure parents
The government is trying to reassure parents about the MMR vaccination
Two and a half million leaflets are being sent to parents and health workers in an effort to calm fears over a triple vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella.
The leaflet, MMR - The Facts, published by the Department of Health and the Health Education Authority (HEA), states that there is no evidence of a link between MMR vaccines and inflammatory bowel disease or autism.
In February, research published in The Lancet suggested parents should not use the triple vaccine because of fears of a link.
However, a report by a group of government experts from the Medical Research Council and a 14-year Finnish study found no proof of any risk.
The Lancet article led to many parents refusing to give their children the triple jab. Supplies of separate vaccinations dried up in many areas as a result.
The new leaflet, which is being distributed in England and Wales, states that children who fail to take vaccines for the diseases could die.
Experts believe taking the vaccinations separately could lead to delays which could leave children open to potentially fatal diseases.
The government's Chief Medical Officer Sir Kenneth Calman said: "I am concerned that some children might be put at risk by having separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines in place of MMR.
"All the evidence I have seen supports the use of MMR as recommended. MMR is the safest way for you to protect your children against measles, mumps and rubella."
The leaflets will be distributed to all 9,000 GP surgeries, 156 health promotion units, parents with children who are about to receive their first or second dose of MMR and those who have missed them, 5,000 primary care workers and 154 child health specialists.
"We are trying to put people's minds at rest," said an HEA spokesman.
The Medical Research Council report said autism appeared at about the same age as most children received the vaccine, but that was almost certainly pure coincidence and not proof of a genuine link.