Our doc­tor an­swers your ques­tions. This week: is the MMR safe?

The Jewish Chronicle - - Life/food - DR AN­DREW WILFIN ni­sa­tion.nhs.uk

Is there any link be­tween the MMR vac­cine and autism??

THE measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vac­cine is the safest way for par­ents to pro­tect their chil­dren against th­ese se­ri­ous dis­eases.

Over 500 mil­lion doses of MMR have been used in over 100 coun­tries around the world since the early 1970s. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion recog­nises MMR as a highly ef­fec­tive vac­cine, with an out­stand­ing safety record (WHO, 2001).

Many par­ents are con­cerned about there be­ing a link be­tween the MMR vac­cine and autism. Be­cause of this, some par­ents have de­cided ei­ther not to vac­ci­nate their chil­dren or to give them sin­gle vaccines.

Con­cern over the vac­cine was sparked by a pa­per pub­lished in the

Lancet in 1998 by Dr An­drew Wake­field, which al­leged a pos­si­ble con­nec­tion be­tween MMR and autism.

This re­search has since been dis­cred­ited and there are now nu­mer­ous stud­ies that re­fute any link. Par­ents though are still con­cerned about MMR caus­ing autism but should be re­as­sured that there is no ev­i­dence that this is the case.

The vac­cine is nor­mally given at around 13 months of age and a sec­ond dose at three years and four months, or soon af­ter.

Some par­ents have cho­sen to im­mu­nise their chil­dren with sin­gle vaccines, which means six sep­a­rate in­jec­tions will be given. The NHS does not rec­om­mend th­ese sin­gle vaccines, be­cause there are in­creased risks as a re­sult.

Risks in­clude chil­dren not com­plet- ing the full course of six jabs. It will also leave them un­pro­tected in the gap be­tween in­jec­tions.

There is no source of sin­gle li­censed measles or mumps vac­cine in the UK. Those that are be­ing of­fered pri­vately are un­li­censed — which means that there is no Bri­tish test­ing on their safety and ef­fec­tive­ness.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about the MMR vac­cine and the ill­nesses that it im­mu­nises against, go to www.immu-

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