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What is wrong with the single vaccine?

Q - What arguments can

I use when a patient declines MMR and wants single measles vaccine?

A - The arguments are shown clearly on the Department of Health's website: www.mmrthefacts.nhs.uk/library/pdf/factsheets14.pdf.

The symptoms of autism are often first observed at the same age as the child has its first dose of MMR. This has led some parents to believe the change in their child's behaviour is caused by the vaccine.

Cases of autism have been rising in the UK since before the MMR was introduced. If MMR was to be associated with autism or inflammatory bowel disease, we should have witnessed a dramatic increase in these conditions in 1988 when MMR was introduced. The fact is autism continued to rise as before the MMR introduction, without any dramatic increase.

The claimed link between MMR and autism has been investigated thoroughly. Studies have consistently shown the rate of autism is the same in children who haven't had MMR compared with those who have. Since Japan switched to using single vaccines in 1992, following a problem with the mumps virus used in their home-produced MMR, no decrease in the rate of autism has been seen. Nor have their single antigen vaccines controlled measles infection. Between 1992 and 1997 there were 79 measles deaths in Japan and none in the UK.

Dr Andrew Wakefield said publicly that some of the cases presented following his original research have had single measles vaccine. Indeed one of the cases in the original paper had single measles vaccine at 15 months which was 'followed by slowing in development'. Thus, even if the theory were proven, single measles vaccine would also be a likely cause of autism.

The very fact the postwar 'measles' generation did not display high rates of autism shows further that the biological plausibility of a link between autism and measles infection or measles vaccine is not supported.

The body of research that has examined the link between MMR and autism has shown overwhelmingly that such a link is not causal. Similarly, research has demonstrated that giving the MMR vaccine is not linked with immunity problems leading to infections, asthma, autism, and bowel disease in autistic children.

The suggestion for single antigen vaccines came from Dr Wakefield. Six separate injections have to be given over a long time ­ six years if parents were to follow Dr Wakefield's advice of one-year gaps. MMR is given only twice, at 13 months and a reinforcing dose at four-and-a-half.

Many children will not come back to complete their vaccination courses; therefore we shall see a fall in vaccine coverage.

Children who cannot have MMR vaccine, such as those who are immunosuppressed because of a disease (cancer) or treatment (on cytotoxic drugs), would be exposed to infection.

Not all private clinics operate with at least the minimum standards and this is not usually made clear to their clients. The measles and mumps vaccines that they import are not licensed by the UK authorities.

There is only one measles vaccine that is effective, licensed, tried and tested around the world for more than 30 years and that is the MMR vaccine.

Dr George Kassianos is a GP in Bracknell, Berkshire, and an RCGP spokesperson on immunisation

Japan switched

to single vaccines with no decrease in autism~

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