Parents are being deceived on MMR jab, warns doctor

(Daily Mail Jan 22, 2000 )

THE doctor who first raised concerns about the MMR vaccine now says he has identified 170 cases of autism and bowel disease in children who had the jab.

Dr Andrew Wakefield, a consultant gastroenterologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London, dismissed assurances over the safety of the combined measles, mumps and rubella jabs.

‘The Department of Health’s contention that MMR has been proven safe by study after study just doesn’t hold up,’ he said.

‘Frankly, it is not an honest appraisal of the science.’

Dr Wakefield’s intervention will leave millions of parents in further confusion. Already, the take-up rate for the triple vaccine has fallen sharply, prompting fears of a potentially fatal measles epidemic.

There has been a growing clamour for the Government to make single measles vaccinations widely available for those who have doubts over the triple jab.

Instead, the handful of centres offering imported single-dose vaccinations have been warned they are breaking regulations.

Dr Wakefield faced fierce criticism from health officials after first voicing his doubts three years ago, highlighting 12 cases of a new combined syndrome of autism and bowel disease in children who had received MMR jabs.

The doctor and his team of scientists are examining the possibility that the measles virus from the vaccine can lodge in the gut of a susceptible child, damaging the bowel and causing autism.

His revelation that he has now seen 170 children with the same symptoms is bound to prompt fresh concern. Most of their parents had documentary evidence that the illness had followed the vaccination, he said.

‘Tests have revealed time and time again that we are dealing with a new phenomenon.

‘These parents have made a link with MMR and everything they have told us so far has turned out to be right.

‘We must take their suggestion that this was due to MMR very, very seriously.’

About 500 parents have launched legal action over claims that children have been damaged by the jab, which is given in two doses, at around 15 months and at three.

In an article yesterday in the medical journal Adverse Drug Reactions, Dr Wakefield argued that trials of the vaccine were too small and did not follow children up for long enough - a suggestion ‘totally rejected’ by the Department of Health.

He also said there was evidence more than 20 years ago that combining three live viruses in one jab could be potentially dangerous.

In the year before its UK launch, a trial was conducted on 10,000 children with a follow-up of three weeks and no control group.

Dr Liam Fox, Tory health spokesman, said: ‘Most doctors do believe MMR is safe and we’ve got to see a rigorous analysis of this data so that, If it is not correct, we can reassure parents.

‘If we are elected, and immunisation rates have not started to rise, we will seek to make single vaccines available alongside a public education programme



Now chickenpox may be added to injection (Daily Mail, Jan 22, 2000)

THE MMR vaccine could soon become a quadruple jab, with an added safeguard against chickenpox.

Doctors have already launched a trial of the quadruple vaccine on 200 British children. Chickenpox can cause serious complications as well as unsightly pockmarks. Dr Adam Finn, who Is leading the trial at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said there were 600,000 cases of chickenpox each year ‘By the age of 12 around 60 per cent of children will have had chickenpox,’ he said. ‘Though it’s generally not severe for most children, many recall It as a miserable Illness they’d rather not have had.

‘If we largely eliminate it through vaccination we’ll save some lives and also protect those who haven’t had the illness in childhood. Adults have it more severly and there is a greater risk of serious s complications.

‘If the trials go well, the vaccine could available routinely over the next few years.

Vaccine made my son autistic (Daily Mail, Jan 22, 2000)

SAM Parry, now ten, had the MMR vaccine when he was 14 months old.

His mother Catie is convinced he was damaged by it and has begun legal action against the manufacturers.

Sam is one of the 170 children identified by Dr Wakefield as having autism and bowel disease.

He developed a fever after having the vaccination and was weak, listless and miserable for a couple of weeks said 37-year old Mrs Parry, a teacher from Port Talbot, West Glamorgan. ‘He then seemed to be fit, although he was very quiet. ‘We wondered if his hearing had been affected because he was just not responding to us in the way that he had before. ‘Sam just stopped speaking, and it soon became clear then was something seriously wrong.’

Her son also developed a painful bowel condition which often left him so constipated he was unable to walk. Over the next few years he was referred to brain specialists and language therapists in an attempt to find out what was wrong with him. Eventually he was diagnosed as autistic and referred to Dr Wakefield. ‘I’m absolutely certain the MMR vaccination was the cause, added Mrs Parry.

‘I’d been nagged by my health visitor to get the vaccination done. I just wish I had been better informed Sam, who attends a special school for the autistic in Swansea, now has to have a special wheat and dairy-free diet to help ease his symptoms. Mrs Parry and her husband Kelvin, 38, a policeman, believe single vaccines must be made available ‘so that people have choice’.