The Effects of Concerns over MMR Vaccine Side Effects

November 12, 2012

The Effects of Concerns over MMR Vaccine Side Effects

Controversy surrounds the MMR vaccine side effects and recently published research has raised doubts on the safety of this vaccine. The research findings claims that the trials on the vaccine were not satisfactory and the reservations linked to any long term effects were not focused on, therefore raising concerns of MMR vaccine side effects. According to Dr Andrew Wakefield, consultant gastroenterologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London, there was not ‘adequate evidence of safety’ of the MMR vaccine. He also said that the trials did have a long enough follow up period to determine potential issues and were small scale. The findings were published in the Adverse Drug Reactions medical journal. The Department of Health and Medicines Control Agency said it ‘totally rejected’ any suggestion that the MMR vaccines were given a license too soon.

Dr Wakefield’s report highlighted concerns from 2 decades ago that putting three live viruses in one injection had the potential to be hazardous, and there was a suggestion that the triple vaccine was associated to inflammatory bowel disease and autism, yet the government continued to give reassurances that the vaccine was safe, the study concluded.

Dr Wakefield examined safety trials for MMR before it was licensed in the United States in 1975 and in the UK in 1988. The small scale study carried out on a few hundred children in the United States showed an increase in youngsters developing stomach problems throughout the trial. Even with these results the follow up period for later trials was cut to 3 weeks from the planned 4 weeks. This meant that the researchers did not have data on the long term effects of the MMR vaccine. Dr Wakefield said: “Two dose MMR vaccine schedules appear to be unsatisfactorily tested for safety. For MMR, autism and inflammatory bowel disease, a significant index of suspicion exists without adequate evidence of safety”.

The study was dismissed by The British Medical Association who insisted the vaccine was safe. Dr Simon Fradd, deputy chairman of the BMA’s GPs’ committee said: ‘There is no new evidence in this paper other than a review of previously published papers relating to the triple vaccine. MMR is a safe and effective vaccine and we strongly recommend that children are protected with it’.

A study carried out in 1969 showed that if live viruses were combined into one vaccine they may have an effect on one another which could affect the response of the body’s immune system. Yet it was decided to proceed with the vaccine with three live viruses.

Dr Wakefield has said, ‘Until safety concerns are allayed, parents should be offered the choice of either the combined jab or single vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella’.

Dr Wakefield caused controversy when he raised his concerns about the vaccine three years claiming a possible association with autism and Crohn’s disease. About 500 parents in the Britain believe that their children’s autism and Crohn’s disease is as a result of being vaccinated with the triple vaccine and are taking legal action. The vaccination is administered in two doses when the child is about 15 months and then at three years old.

The following scare resulted in many parents taking the decision that the triple vaccination was too dangerous and have refused to have their children vaccinated because of fear of MMR vaccine side effects. The vaccination levels have fallen from 92% to 75% in some areas of the population. To protect the population, immunization levels must be 92% or higher. If the immunization levels do not increase as parents continue to worry about the MMR vaccine side effects, experts have warned of the risk of a measles epidemic occurring with the potential to be fatal.

Parents have been demanding the right for their children to have single vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella because of their concerns about MMR vaccine side effects, but the Government insists they will not be available. Ministers are issuing a campaign to give assurance to parents that the MMR vaccine is safe, using information from a large Finnish study which ruled out any association between bowel disease and autism.


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