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MMR vaccine uptake lower among white children

Uptake of the MMR vaccine is much lower among white children than those from Asian or Afro-Caribbean backgrounds because their parents are more likely to have been influenced by the controversy surrounding the safety of the vaccine, a report claims.

Researchers looked at uptake of the first dose of the vaccine in 6,444 children aged between 18 months and three years living in Brent, north London on 1 December 2003. Coverage was 87.1% among the Asian population, 74.7% among Afro-Caribbeans and only 57.5 % among white people.

Six focus groups involving 37 mothers were also held to ascertain their awareness of the controversy surrounding the MMR vaccine and how much influence grandparents and health professionals had had on their decision to immunise or not.

The research, published in the September issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, claims Asian mothers had followed the cultural tradition of consulting their elders, especially their mother in law, for advice on immunisation. These elders tended to be pro-immunisation. Asian mothers were also more likely to consult their GP for advice.

Gujarati mothers were also shielded from concerns the vaccine was linked to autism because they were unable to read English and the Indian newspapers had little coverage of the debate. This could have contributed to the high coverage among the Asian group.

MMR vaccine: Non-white parents influenced less by controversy MMR vaccination: Non-white parents influenced less by controversy

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