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A MEASLY PROBLEM

13-11-2008

measles

Many parents remain unwilling to subject their children to the MMR vaccine following widely publicised health fears. Barbara Panvel understands the reservations.

Three headlines recently seen in the local press:

Under threat from measles! Measles epidemic may hit borough! Vaccinate your child to prevent a measles epidemic!

One letter described measles as 'unpleasant' and 'horrible'. Having had measles as a small child I remember my brother and I enjoying the novelty of the extra attention, being in a slightly darkened room and eating ice-cream - there was no pain. My daughter had a similar experience.

For many years, parents had parties in order to expose their children to a sufferer from a childhood illness and they either developed an immunity or had the condition at an earlier age, which was an advantage for boys in the case of mumps and for girls in the case of German measles.

For parents who opt for some form of vaccination there is a choice of single or triple vaccines. There has never been a safer time to administer MMR, because of measures taken in 1992 and 2004.

In the 80s, Canadian officials warned British counterparts of the problems that they had experienced with the triple vaccine containing the Urabe mumps strain eight months before it was used in Britain, but the UK Department of Health only stopped using it in 1992 and replaced it by the Jeryl Lynn strain of mumps.

From that earlier vaccine there were 1000-2000 claims against MMR vaccine manufacturers, including GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis Pasteur and Merck. Most cases withdrew when legal aid was withdrawn after a ruling by a judge, Sir Nigel Davis, whose brother, Sir Crispin Davis, is a non-executive director of GlaxoSmithKline

Since 2004, babies have no longer been exposed to mercury in other vaccines. In 1999 the US Food and Drug administration announced that mercury in vaccines, accumulated in babies under six months old, exceeded safety limits set by their Environmental Protection Agency but it took five years before Britain banned a vaccine containing mercury given to eight-week-old babies in Britain.

Is the British government more susceptible to pressure by 'Big Pharma' to continue selling the stocks of discredited vaccines already on shelves and in warehouses?

Records indicate that our government respects the profit motive far more than politicians in USA, Japan and Sweden.

In the Birmingham Mail Brendan and Claire Faulkner, from Himley, who opted for the single injections for their two children, got to the heart of the matter, saying:

"We feel it is better to be safe than sorry. If anything happened as a result of having the MMR we would never forgive ourselves."

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