9 Responses to “If your kids haven’t had your MMR…”

  1. Penny Wolff June 11, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    I’m afraid I have sympathy with, and would support parents who exercise caution in relation to the MMR jab. As a scientist, I’d be more impressed with the apparent uncritical confidence in this jab claimed by the medical profession in the UK, if there was at the very least a universally accessible and dedicated vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) available in the UK. In the US, VAERS was established in 1990, is managed by the FDA and the CDC and exerts an important regulatory role on the pharmaceutical companies. It receives 30,000 reports annually and is responsible for collecting, managing and evaluating reports of vaccine reactions. According to Medscape, (The Basics of Pediatric Immunizations: Adverse Reactions and Safety Concerns)every year since the 1990’s, the number of reports of serious side effects has exceeded the reported incidence of all vaccine-preventable childhood diseases combined. (www.medscape.com/viewarticle/472398_4) I could go on at greater length, but would be interested in any responses at this point…..

  2. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney June 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    It’s not uncritical confidence, but confidence from large scale and well done trials. And the knowledge that it will not take very much for a large scale outbreak of measles to occur in the UK. We have the Yellow Card scheme to report side effects to, and this includes vaccines, and it is open to all to report problems or perceived problems. http://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/
    I can’t access your paper but it does not square with the colossal amount of deaths from measles alone globally every day. There are lots of difficult decisions that parents have to make but this isn’t one of them.

  3. Simon Rogers June 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm #


    I can only assume you haven’t read the whole paper. Of the many people vaccinated every year, the study suggests that 11,000 of them had side effects, and 11,000 had the illnesses the vaccine protects against. This is pretty much what you’d expect, when you remember that this reactions include “Local reactions include pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site.” This is not evidence that vaccines have many side effects; in fact it shows that vaccines are so effective that the number of cases are very low when you consider how many people are vaccinated every year.

    I also refer you to the opening of the article:

    “A hundred years ago, infectious diseases were widely prevalent throughout North America and Europe. Indeed, in 1900, 4 of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States were attributed to them.[1] Immunization has greatly reduced deaths from infectious diseases and has resulted in the eradication of smallpox, the elimination of polio in most countries, and the widespread control of many other diseases, including measles, rubella, tetanus, and diphtheria.”

  4. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney June 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    sorry, I can’t access the paper. If you can send it to me I’d like to read it.

    the problem is that measles is not in remission globally, and we are at risk of outbreaks here – see Dublin in 2000 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12867830
    13 children in ITU and three deaths.

  5. Dr Aust June 15, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    The comparison of ‘adverse incidents’ vs. ‘reported disease cases’ that Penny Wolff refers to strikes me as completely meaningless. The appropriate comparison is ‘vaccine-attributable adverse incidents’ (whatever those are) vs. ‘what would happen without mass vaccination’ (i.e. if everyone got measles, as when I was a kid ).

    Of course, the ‘reported vaccine side-effects’ in voluntary report databases like VAERS will also include a significant amount of stuff that isn’t vaccine-related at all. It may, indeed, be almost all unrelated to vaccines..

    In contrast, among the people who do get measles, either because they declined
    vaccination or because they couldn’t have it – say due to an immune problem – there is a well-recognised rate of hospitalisation from things like pneumonia, and a well-characterised rate of encephalitis and even death.

  6. Simon Rogers June 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    @margartemccartney Sorry – that should have been @Penny Wolff. I’m in agreement with you about MMR. My point was that the vaccine is so effective where it is widely used, that the number of side effects is comparable to the number of cases, and when you consider that the majority of those side effects are very minor, it’s a very low risk. The alternative, that is, not vaccinating is terrifying, as the paper suggests in the introduction, and as you point out.

    I can’t access all the paper – it’s behind a paywall, but I can get these sections:

  7. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney June 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    thank you – that is clever way to search for paywall things. Access is very annoying at present – my athens pass does not get into most things anymore.

  8. Penny Wolff June 17, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    As a newcomer to the practice of blogging, I simply hadn’t realised how easy it is for comments to be taken ‘out of context’ – so my apologies in respect of the quote I took from the Medscape paper, duly referenced in my original blog. Dr Aust is, of course, correct that a comparison between the number of reports of serious side effects compared with the number of reports of incidence of the disease is, in itself, meaningless. However, the Medscape paper (which appeared to be well referenced) was providing this information in the context of the initial sentence to a particular paragraph – which was – and again I quote: ‘As the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases declined, adverse effects became more visible, and lead to a demand by the public that risks to infants be defined and studied’.

    The Medscape paper, then goes on to suggest that the public expects a high level of safety for vaccines, especially as these are given to healthy individuals to prevent disease. Thus the tolerance of adverse reaction from products given to healthy infants and children is lower than for products given to persons who are ill. Concerns regarding adverse reactions are therefore likely to lead to loss of public confidence in immunization.

    Although, the Medscape paper is, I think, North American in origin, it is likely that similar dynamics to those indicated above underly the fall in MMR vaccinations in the UK. I suspect it was the reported fall in UK based MMR vaccinations which may have prompted Margaret McCartney’s original blog.

    There are related issues raised by the Medscape paper which, at least in my view, merit debate. The CDC information page on VAERS and vaccine safety is also useful, and cites other large-linked databases to study vaccine safety e.g the VSD, in addition to giving other related scientific articles.( http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Activities/vaers.html )

  9. Simon Gates June 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Just a quick addendum – it’s not just kids, if you’ve got any adults in the house that haven’t had measles or MMR, get them vaccinated too. My wife has just had it, as she doesn’t think she ever had measles as a child.