I’ve written about MMR before so the Sky News story caught my eye:

In London, less than half of five-year-olds have been vaccinated, raising fears of measles outbreaks as soon as children start school.

Earlier this year Dr Chris Watts, Director of Public Health for Lewisham Primary Care Trust said,

“We have a major problem with measles in Lewisham. One of our local schools has had 30 probable cases plus six confirmed. We have also had several cases in another school and in the community more widely. We must stop measles spreading.”

A year ago the PCT published this report which shows the level of immunisation by super output areas – green is highest, red lowest.

The same report suggests reasons why immunisation is low in the borough:

Whilst the report of the link between immunisation decisions and the media hype around the Wakefield study caused concern for some parents, the study found that the major influence on the decision was friends and relatives opinions, which were often more trusted than professionals’ advice.

It was suggested that the level of trust in the NHS was a key factor in deciding to vaccinate children. It may also be significant that 6 in 10 parents had not received an appointment for MMR.

In August this year the Health Protection Agency issued guidance on a catch-up campaign for immunisation.  They said:

Based on the current epidemiology, the first priority is to offer MMR to those aged 13 months to 18 years who have not received MMR vaccine. This group should be called for vaccination before the end of October this year.

Subsequently, primary school children who have received a single dose of MMR vaccine should be called, followed by those of secondary school age. 

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Civic Society, Lewisham and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to MMR

  1. I have written about this too. As a parent I find the low levels of uptake extremely worrying.

    Interestingly the google ad on my blog is currently for single vacciines. Also a worrying trend given that the mumps single jab basically doesn’t work,

  2. Andrew Brown says:

    I was surprised by the analysis that the PCT have done which suggests the Wakefield stuff hasn’t been as significant as I’d have thought it was.

    It seems there’s more GPs’ practices can do to raise the numbers getting immunised.

  3. Yeah – I definitely think there is. We didn’t receive an invite for James’s MMR, so it was on our initiative that we took him. It was also on our initiative that we took him to have the booster early, in fact I think it was because we read online (perhaps on your blog?) that the advice had now changed in Lewisham. James’s nursery has since had a confirmed case of measles, so I’m so glad we did.

    I guess if GP surgeries rung people up and invited them for appointments, more people might go. At the moment they rely on you going to a clinic and sitting around for however long it takes.

    I do think though, from chatting to other parents, that there is still a belief that MMR and autism are somehow associated. Even though they know in their heart of hearts it isn’t, that possible link is ingrained in their minds thanks to the Daily Mail et al. On top of that you have the middle class nutters who think that all vaccines are bad, and people who “just want to see how she does on her own” that I overheard in our clinic. The Health Visitor just nodded and didn’t correct them. I’d have felt like saying if you leave it and see how she does on her own, she could die you fools. But them I’m fairly intolerant of idiots.

  4. Your answer maybe found on “Montel”on itv2 and “Oprah” on diva tv on cable and sky.
    over the last couple of weeks i have watched 2 autism specials about the vaccine autism connection (the Montel one was on tonight) apparently in the US the autism vaccine debate is FAR from over.. in fact it is gathering speed.

    David Kirby spoke to 130 representatives in Washington only last night (incuding staffers from Obama and McClane) , both presidential candidates have publicity stated that they will investigate the autism vaccine connection.
    I have also heard that Jim Carrey, oprah winfey lance Armstrong, Jenny Mcarthy, Brittney spears and several other US celebs are all calling for a safer vaccine Schedule.
    by the way you may want to check out “Eli Stone” comming soon on the sci fi Channel it features George Michael and a Vaccine autism story line.

    google “Hannah poling” “autism Somalis minisota” and you may find out why so many people mistrusts the information been spoon fed through the press from the DOH.

  5. Clare
    The mumps component in the MMR doesn’t work either.
    at best it gives 10 years of protection (after 2 doses)
    protection fails at a time when mumps can causes the most damage to boys
    I recommend you read Dr Richard Halvorsen’s “the truth about Vaccines” for a balanced medical opinion about the benifits/risks.
    can you explain why you would want to protect your child against Hib which is a spread by sexual contact or body fluid
    I cant think of a good reason,,, call me old fashioned…

    best regards
    a middle class nutter

  6. Dave Cole says:

    I think the process of immunisation is a little bit like the herd immunity it can confer. If most people are doing it, it becomes default and so nigh-on everyone does it; it is the default option. As the controversy around MMR has risen, that feature has dropped away.

    The reporting of MMR is a scandal; I am quite sure that people will be needlessly ill and may die as a result of prolonged, gutter journalism in the face of medical opinion.


  7. I am totally with Clare G on this. My GP has never reminded us about vaccines for our kids – luckily their mother is better at remembering these things than I am, but she is also probably better at remembering them than a large part of the population.

    I have had many bad experiences with the medical world, but the idea that they actually want to make kids autistic, which is the thrust of Wakefield cult’s diagnosis, is ridiculous. s

    By the way, did Hannah Poling get the MMR vaccine? No, she got seperate measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and Haemophilus influenzae vaccines all in one day, which is not exactly the same thing.

  8. Andrew Brown says:

    Not being familiar with the Poling case I did as suggested and googled the name. This seems to cover things.

    For those of us on this side of the pond, I’d recommend Bad Science and Black Triangle.

  9. Andrew Brown says:

    I can see why you might prefer those ones, but the situation here is that it seems as if people are not having their children immunised because of system failure rather than a belief (which I think is misplaced) that vaccination is linked to autism.

    To repeat:

    6 in 10 parents had not received an appointment for MMR.

    If the director of public health in our borough isn’t able to convince GP practices they should be actively encouraging immunisation then that’s a pretty good reason why we’re facing a measles outbreak.

  10. ageofautism – I cannot understand people who don’t want to protect their children against life threatening diseases. It’s really as simple as that. There is no link between MMR and autism. Vaccination is safe, in general, though I accept that there are some children who have allergic reactions to them. This is a risk so tiny that I will accept it in order to protect my family (and other children who cannot have vaccines). We only have the luxury to think that these diseases are nothing much to worry about because of vaccination.

    Andrew – I think there are two sides to it. Our surgery doesn’t give out appointments, so no one attending it will have received one for MMR. You just have to turn up. At the very least the surgeries could ring parents to remind them to bring their child to clinic. The second aspect, though, is the fear of vaccination. Surgeries haven’t changed their practices – as far as I know ours has never offered appointments for vaccinations – yet vaccination rates are falling. Both of these issues need to be addressed.

    I favour an approach where up-to-date vaccinations are required for nursery attendance, particulary when children will be coming into contact with infants who are as yet unvaccinated by virtue of their age. I believe this happens in France.

  11. Max says:

    Ageofautism, letting aside the MMR issue what got my attention is this comment of yours:

    “can you explain why you would want to protect your child against Hib which is a spread by sexual contact or body fluid
    I cant think of a good reason,,, call me old fashioned…”

    What do you mean with this? Do you mean that if an illness is caught in a way that in your book is immoral then people should not be protected against it?
    Reminds a bit of

  12. I liked this quote from the Science-Based Medecine blog:
    “the forces of pseudoscience and magical thinking.. trying to “integrate” prescientific belief systems with science- and evidence-based medicine, a process that would be unthinkable in just about any other field of applied science, such as aeronautics or the physics used in engineering, just as creationists try to “integrate” religion with biology”
    (More along similar lines here:

    I’ve been looking at the map at the top of this post trying to think what the red and green areas correlate to, and can’t really see a pattern. I would expect that the Wakefield effect would be most prevelant in middle class areas, and the bad public health communication effect most prevelant in working class areas (is that just my prejudices?) but the high and low take-up don;t seem to correspond with either. The low take up in the western edge of the borough is striking – is that the area served by the Honor Oak medical centre?

    Max, you’ve opened up the floodgates of Brass Eye on YouTube: I’m not going to get any work done for hours now!

  13. Max says:

    Tell me, I’m hooked myself. What have I done!

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