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Public may resist further vaccines

Parents may be unwilling to accept further vaccines in

the childhood immunisation schedule, warns an influential parliamentary committee.

Shaky public confidence in vaccine safety and parental fears over adverse effects 'should be a factor in considering whether to expand the childhood schedule', concluded the House of Lords select committee on science and technology.

The Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is known to be keen to add hepatitis B and pneumococcal vaccines to the routine schedule.

But the select committee report 'Fighting Infection' said: 'While the public seems to have accepted the recent inclusion of meningitis C vaccine it is not clear that they would be willing to accept yet more vaccines, particulary given recent public anxiety about MMR.'

The report also called for a drive to make parents better informed about the balance of risks and benefits of MMR and other vaccines.

Dr Douglas Fleming, director of the RCGP's Birmingham Research Unit, said: 'The vaccine ship has wobbled a bit and we need to steady it before adding to its load. It's very important to restore confidence first.'

He added: 'Three things would positively influence public opinion: a large-scale epidemiological survey, a better understanding of the illness and a re-emergence of ­ possibly deaths from ­ measles.'

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