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BMA Conference Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Doctors attack MMR refuseniks
MMR
Doctors stress the MMR vaccine is safe
Doctors have launched a stinging attack on parents who refuse to have their children immunised with the triple MMR vaccine.

Some parents are campaigning for the right to give their children separate single vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella amid lingering fears about the safety of the combined vaccine.


Single vaccines lead to more children's deaths and disability

Dr David Sinclair
But representatives at the British Medical Association's annual conference in Bournemouth overwhelmingly rejected a motion calling for single vaccines to be made available.

They warned that parents who did not get their children vaccinated were threatening the health of other children.

MMR uptake of the jab has fallen since concerns were first raised in 1998 that it was linked to a rise in autism and bowel disorders.

Immunisation rates have fallen to below recommended World Health Organisation levels, promoting fears that the immunity of the whole population could be threatened.

Parents in some parts of the country have travelled abroad or paid privately for single vaccinations against the individual diseases.

But the single jabs are not as effective and some doctors are concerned that offering parents a choice will cause vaccination rates to fall still further.

Death and disability

Dr David Sinclair, from Fife, Scotland, said: "Single vaccines lead to more children's deaths and disability.

"This is a recipe for deaths in children - no more, no less.

"It is pandering to the chattering classes and not to our children's health."

BMA chairman Dr Ian Bogle, who is a GP, said: "For me, it is a matter of parental choice against the greater public health and the issue if the public health must win."

But Dr Ian Robbe, senior lecturer in public health at the University of Wales in Cardiff, accused doctors of adopting "paternalistic" attitudes over the MMR vaccine.

He said: "This is about the issue of respect that I offer as a doctor to a parent or patient.

"The evidence on MMR is very mixed. I think not to respect the parents position is not to give people the right to make a choice - it is taking choice away from them."

He added: "We can encourage and explain and exhort people to have a vaccine but we should not impose it on them."

Campaigner's response


It is appalling that parents who want to protect their children by only using a single vaccine are being denied that choice

Jackie Fletcher
Jackie Fletcher, from the campaign groups Jabs, which wants to see single vaccines re-introduced, said: "Parents do not take the decision lightly to seek out the single vaccine here and abroad.

"They are worried about the MMR vaccine but still go to great lengths to ensure their children get protection against the diseases."

She added: "There are many scientific questions parents want answered and whether the government likes it or not, there are a lot of legal cases (surrounding the MMR autism) going forward.

"In the countries where MMR is used, there are concerns being raised.

"It is appalling that parents who want to protect their children by only using a single vaccine are being denied that choice."

See also:

12 Apr 01 | Health
25 Feb 01 | Health
09 Feb 01 | Health
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