The journal that sparked the row about the safety of the MMR vaccine has said, with hindsight, that it should not have published the research.
Health Secretary John Reid has backed calls from Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris for an independent inquiry into the study that sparked fears of a link between autism and the controversial three-in-one jab.
The research, published six years ago, prompted many parents to reject the MMR jab, even though most experts say it is safe.
What are your feelings towards the MMR jab? Has this changed your view? Should children be given it? Send us your views.
This debate is now closed. The following comments reflected the balance of views we received:
I can fully understand those parents who say that they would never put their child at risk. However, any decision to either refuse to take the MMR vaccine or to opt for alternative single jabs seems to be an entirely illogical one. The MMR jab has had more safety and efficacy testing than any single jab and the supporting evidence in favour of MMR is overwhelming. Simple logic therefore dictates that choosing anything other than MMR is by far the riskier course of action.
As long as there is an element of doubt, then ultimately the choice rests with the parents. To say we are allowing the diseases to return is ridiculous! I am getting my children inoculated against the 3 diseases albeit in 3 separate jabs.
Mike Dack, Bromely, Kent
This is really an issue of trust. I trust the medical profession in general and do not think that on the whole they would be recommending a treatment that they even suspect of being harmful. I just wish that the media would wait until a health story is correctly researched before giving the neurotics one more health scare to worry about.
Christian Tiburtius, Reading UK
I am fed up of people spouting the safety of MMR for all children. While it is probably safe for most there are a number of children who have this vaccine in their blood, gut and spinal fluid. Surely that can't be safe! Also why victimise Andrew Wakefield. He is the only practitioner who has actively researched and considered the children involved. The larger research projects do not take into account the specifics but generalise on statistics.
A Jones, UK
As a father of two, one who has had the jab and one who hasn't, I think it should be down to the parents to choose if their children have the jabs or not. When our first child was born we opted not to have the MMR, but were constantly harassed by health visitors and health centre staff. When our second child was born my wife was so harassed by these health people that she gave in and had our daughter vaccinated, much to my annoyance. I think that going forward both parents should have to sign a consent form allowing vaccination, and the Health centre/visitors should not be allowed to harass parents into having these jabs by playing on their fears. I personally have never had any vaccinations and Im a perfectly health person.
Chris Brogden, Bradford, UK
As a first time grandfather (four months), I am extremely relieved that my daughter will be giving the MMR jab and all other available jabs to my grandson. All this scare has managed to do is create unfounded hysteria and sell more newspapers. By the way, my daughter is a nurse, so she knows the real risks of measles and mumps.
Mike Wanstall, Gravesend, Gravesend, U.K.
Research or not - my daughter received the MMR jab at 13 months, (she is now 8) and stopped talking - two-word phrases, stopped walking and screamed for days straight in an odd high pitched tone. She has never been the same. In my view, there is no doubt whatsoever that the MMR caused her autism!
Diana Warth, St. Louis, Missouri USA
I am a special needs supply teacher. About 50% of my work is teaching key stage 1 autistic children. Something is causing an increase in the number of children with autism. The increase seems to coincide with the take up of MMR. The only answers that you will really hear are the ones the government and its paymasters have approved.
William Heron, London, England
Perhaps now, all those middle-class, hysterical parents without any commonsense will learn not to treat a single source as the truth and start being more sensible and researching for themselves any claims that concern them.
Both of my daughters have the MMR jab and are perfectly ok. I wound rather deal with the risk of autism than have one of my children taken to hospital with one of the viruses. I think autism is better to deal with than the thought of a child dying.
Charlie, Birmingham, UK
In addition to an inquiry into the actual study, I'd like to see an inquiry into the way that the media reported it. Most newspapers and news programmes seized on it in a sensationalist way and are in a large part to blame for the current levels of take-up of the MMR.
Claire, Sheffield, UK
As someone who has Aspergers, a mild form of autism, I urge parents to get their children vaccinated. There is no proven link between MMR and autism and don't forget - measles can kill. Don't put your own or other peoples children at risk, get them vaccinated
Andrew F Leitch, Glasgow, Scotland
People suggest the medical profession is divided but I have never seen it so united. I have discussed this with literally hundreds of colleagues and we all agree that our children will be protected by MMR. I do not know whether Tony Blair's son has had MMR, but you can virtually guarantee that your GP's child has.
Sarah P, Torquay
The only suggestion that MMR and autism may be linked has been shown to be flawed. Yet still people won't accept that there is no link. The UK (alone, as the hysteria seems limited to this country) has wasted millions on a non-existent leak. Money that could have been better spent on finding the true causes of autism.
Frank, Harlow, UK
Parents should be allowed to choose if their children have the jab or not. However, those parents who choose not to have the jab should be billed by the NHS if their child falls ill.
I believe that my four year old son become autistic because of the MMR, he had many social and communication skills which he lost gradually after the jab, I urge parents to think about it twice before going ahead with it, his disability has changed our lives.
We chose to give single jabs, mainly because there is some element of doubt about the MMR. The government's repeated reassurance of 'nothing to fear' reminds me of BSE and other similar episodes where they were later shown to be wrong. They have a vested financial interest in use of the MMR instead of the alternatives, even to the point of actively trying to stop people getting single vaccines for their children.
Dave, Cambridge UK
People who refuse to give the MMR vaccine to their children are not only disillusioned, but also selfish: They rely on other parents' vaccinated children to stop the spread of measles, mumps and rubella to their own children. Does it take a massive and devastating measles outbreak for everyone to warm to the benefits of immunisation?
As the parent of a three year old, I'm very aware of the rising concern about this vaccine. However, the risk is very low and the benefits against the diseases it immunizes against far outweigh the risk of serious side effects. In this day and age of potential biological warfare, rejecting the vaccine could have serious consequences.
Janine, McLean, VA USA
We elected to give our son separate injections, and paid for them privately. My concerns were not the links with autism but the common-sense concern of giving a small child three inoculations in one jab. It would be nice, however, for the medical profession and government to give parents some clear guidance on these sorts of issues. That our prime minister chose not to publicly declare whether his son was given the jab hardly inspired confidence either.
Ed Furniss, Bristol
MMR answer stares us in the face. This Doctor has set in motion the biggest medical experiment in the UK's history. If 20% of the UK population is no longer using MMR (and so 80% is). What is the difference in Autism rates between the two groups? No excuses, no playing with numbers, no mucking about, the experiment has been running for five years - someone knows the truth.
I think the assumption that because parents refuse the MMR jab for their children that they also therefore do not have them immunised at all, shows the kind of hysteria around this whole issue. My three year old son did not have the MMR jab, but has had the single injections. Shame that the government didn't take the initiative here rather than let the whole issue be driven by outside sources.
Keith Brazington, Tamworth, UK
The MMR vaccine was designed as best method to protect every child from three horrific killers. All medical procedures carry a percentage of risk. Parents who don't have their children vaccine are allowing these three horrific killers to slowly return. Take a good look at these three killers, 'Measles, Mumps and Rubella', they could be returning to town near you soon.
Steve G, Gateshead UK
It should now be possible to study the incidence of autism in sufficiently large populations of children who have had MMR and those who haven't. Whilst removing the bias from the largely self-selecting families that choose not to have MMR, this should be able to settle the question once and for all. This should be a relatively inexpensive piece of research. Why hasn't it been done?
With all the recent controversy about the MMR jab, what is the situation with the Whooping Cough jab, which was so feared by parents 20 years ago? Is there a new, "safe" Whooping Cough jab - or has the argument about MMR pushed it out of the news and the public conscience?
After his MMR, my son was a different child. Previously, he had been developing normally and we had no concerns. Soon after, he steadily began to display signs of autism, and whilst we have been lucky in that his learning and social difficulties are relatively mild, I know in my heart that the MMR caused his condition. My daughter had the MMR, and was fine, although autism is known to affect boys more than girls.
Why must the measles, mumps and rubella jabs be given at once in one injection? I'm sure that is where the problem lies - it's too much for a little body to handle. Of course the government will never admit that the MMR is the cause for my son's or any other child's autism. The very idea of the number of law suits which would be brought against them must be terrifying indeed.
The single jabs are not the answer - they have not been tested adequately for safety nor effectiveness and as they are given separately at different times, leave the possibility of children becoming infected between jabs. We should not forget that measles can cause brain damage and death.
My girlfriend's little brother has autism, and is on possible the most difficult end of the spectrum, not once do they question if MMR caused autism 'cause in retrospect, behaviour of the child from day one showed autism, not just at the time the MMR jab is taken. This scare just gives parents in denial a chance to place blame, rather than accept and love their children.
David, Quakers Yard
When deciding whether to allow my daughter to have the jab, I found most information available (research results) indicated no link between the MMR and autism. We went ahead and she was fine. I cannot believe that if there is a proved link that our GPs and practice nurses wouldn't be aware, and that they would act by refusing to administer it.
Jeanette Bell, New Malden, Surrey
Surely if there is any doubt at all about the safeness of the MMR jab, parents should be given the choice of single jabs.
John Mortensen, Coventry
Whatever happened to taking your kids to the one with measles so that they would catch it and be immune forever? When I was a child my parents took me to every sick kid's house they knew. I am know immune to nearly everything, no jabs required.
Nige, Ramsgate, Kent.
Instead of all the fuss about the MMR jab, why not instead carry out an investigation into the causes of autism. There has been a dramatic increase which cannot be explained away by improved diagnosis alone. Unless the causes are identified we will only see more and more possible causes being proposed.
Terry Gallagher, UK
This problem has split the medical profession. It has also worried thousands of parents like myself. We decided to have the MMR for our boy with no ill effects. This is another example of the debacle that so called experts seem to enjoy to debate in public when the whole matter should have been investigated immediately and comprehensively from the start. I am very disappointed that this matter was not given the highest priority and resolved ASAP.
Dave, Midlands UK
Dave is right. MMR has split the medical profession. It has split it into one very large part and a tiny splinter who insist there's problem. The latter simply won't give up and like to present the split as being down the middle. They make a lot of noise but have very, very little backing from elsewhere.
Pete, London, UK
It is my understanding that the problem with the MMR is with the carrier liquid and inadequate clinical research was carried out in this area. Whilst this situation continues, parents should be offered the single inoculations.
Richard Waldron, Chichester, West Sussex
I am a nurse for people with learning disabilities, I have seen the damage that measles and mumps can cause, I think people have forgot the dangers of these illnesses, I gave both my children the MMR jab as I feel the risk is far greater that they catch measles than a perceived risk of the MMR injection
Jenny Wood, Aberdeen
All three of my children had had the jabs, the risks if they catch the illness are more than the risks (if any) of the jabs.
If you're going abroad there are more risks of catching these illnesses, hence the jabs are needed. As for the risks of the 3-in-1 jab, everything has a risk, but this jab makes the world safer for my children.
Both of our children have had MMR jabs and I would urge parents to question those who are opposed to it.
Miguel Cardona, Manchester