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New drive on MMR uptake planned

Government advisers are planning a fresh drive to force up MMR uptake after a major analysis revealed the damaging legacy of years of negative publicity.

Research presented to the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation revealed worrying pockets of susceptibility to measles, mumps and rubella.

The committee may be poised to recommend extending catch-up campaigns for MMR beyond London after deciding to review the London data as part of its strategic planning.

But the plans came against the backdrop of growing media nervousness over MMR, with Dr Richard Halvorsen, a GP in Holborn, central London, publishing a new book condemning the triple vaccine. The committee reviewed seroepidemiology data provided by the Health Protection Agency.

It revealed:

• high susceptibility to measles among the under-fives

• high susceptibility to rubella in males born between 1956 and 1980, with females born after 1995 also at increased risk

• high susceptibility to mumps in under-fives, with a large proportion of those born between 1981 and 2003 having low levels of mumps antibody.

It concluded: 'Uptake of MMR doses one and two needs to be improved. The committee will be presented with options on how to address this at its next meeting. The consideration would include feedback on the Capital Catch-up Campaign.'

The news came as Dr Andrew Wakefield, whose controversial research linked the MMR vaccine with autism and Crohn's disease, attended a GMC hearing with two colleagues also accused of serious professional misconduct.

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