31/10/2003

MMR vaccine safe says Chief Medical Officer

Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer has called on local parents to have their child immunised against Measles despite a supposed link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

In a letter, which is set to run in the November 1 issue of British medical weekly The Lancet, a leading Britain specialist said the UK could be swept by a measles epidemic this winter unless "vaccine uptake improves rapidly".

Leading medical specialist, Simon Murch originally caused a storm in the medical profession five years ago when he claimed that there could be a link between the single-shot MMR vaccine and autism.

He later reversed this view saying exhaustive research had proven that the MMR vaccine was safe.

However, commenting on today's story, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Henrietta Campbell said that the MMR vaccine was safe and effective, and the only way of preventing serious childhood diseases.

“The MMR vaccine has been used extensively across the globe," Dr Campbell said. "It is a very safe and effective vaccine. It is tried and tested and has saved many young lives.

"We need to increase the uptake rate of MMR vaccine in order to ensure that all our children are protected. Measles is a very serious illness and we need to ensure that the levels of immunisation are at such a level that no epidemics can occur.”

According to the latest statistical research, the MMR scare has resulted in measles vaccination among children in the UK to plummet to as low as 61%.

(MB)

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