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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
London Mayor warned over MMR defiance
The government insists MMR is safe
Doctors have warned Ken Livingstone his outspoken opposition to the MMR vaccine could leave him partly responsible for youngsters' deaths.

The London Mayor says his child, by partner Emma Beal, would not have the controversial triple jab and he has advised parents to opt for single vaccines.

The chairman of the British Medical Association, Dr Ian Bogle, has urged Mr Livingstone to apologise and retract the statement.

In comments, Mr Livingstone said MMR was being promoted simply because it saved huge amounts of time and money.


I don't tell him how to run London and he should certainly not advise and confuse parents in this way

Dr Ian Bogle, BMA
He told BBC Radio Five Live that he would be giving his child, when it is born, the separate injections to guard against mumps, measles and rubella.

Government scientists have declared the triple MMR vaccine safe, despite claims that it could be linked to autism.

Dr Bogle said Mr Livingstone had made an "outrageous statement for someone in his position".

"He will have done irreparable damage, damage that takes a long time to put right.

"It beggars belief that somebody would do this."

He said the mayor had spoken outside the bounds of his knowledge.

"I don't tell him how to run London and he should certainly not advise and confuse parents in this way," he added.

Reaction risks

Mr Livingstone said that the public did not trust government advice especially after the outbreak of BSE in cattle.

"It seems to me that a child of those months, just 14 months, is incredibly vulnerable," he said.

"I remember having all these jabs separately - often you had quite a severe reaction.

"Why whack them all into a child at the same time?

"This whole debate is about administrative convenience - rather than having to chase people up to make sure they get them all separately.

"It's a question of huge savings of time and money and in no way would I inflict on a child that risk."

Ken Livingstone
Mr Livingstone: MMR is the cheap option
Mr Livingstone said scientific research might yet prove the vaccine perfectly safe.

But there was enough doubt for many parents, particularly in London, insisting on separate jabs.

Dr Anthony Grewal, a GP from Hillingdon in west London, told the BMA's annual conference in Harrogate that "levels of uptake in London are already dangerously low".

"Measles stalks the streets, measles maims and kills children.

"When London children are disabled or die, Mr Livingstone, as they surely will unless we change current trends, then you will share the blame."

"You stick to newts and the Tube and leave our children's health to us."

Recent figures suggest London has the worst take-up rate of MMR in the country, with 72.6% of parents opting to give their children the vaccine, compared to the national average of 83.3%.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Matthew Hill
"Doctors who only manage to vaccinate 70% of toddlers are given 995 each"
London Mayor, Ken Livingstone
"There is no way I would inflict on a child that risk"
BMA's GPs committee's Dr Hamish Meldrum
"It is counterproductive to have this system"
Paul Shattock, Autism Research Centre
"We must maintain the trust between the patient and the physician"
Full coverage of the BMA conference 2002

Day Three

Day Two

Day one

Personal stories

TALKING POINT
 VOTE RESULTS
Should MMR be compulsory?

Yes
 42.95% 

No
 57.05% 

2773 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

12 Jun 02 | Health
16 May 02 | Health
06 May 02 | Health
02 Jul 02 | BMA Conference
Internet links:


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