Saturday, 6 April 2013

Measles - A Killer Epidemic in South Wales

At the time of writing this there is a measles outbreak in South Wales. There has been a rush to get unprotected babies and children immunised, and clinics are to run over the weekend to cope with the demand. It seems that the National Health Service has reacted quickly and appropriately.

            So far, 600 people have contracted the illness. It is a nasty infection. It is quite capable of killing a few of its victims and leaving many more permanently damaged.

            Yet immunisation against measles has been readily available for many years now. Every parent will have been advised that it should be given to their children (with rare exceptions). So the question ought to be asked: why were so many children left with no or incomplete protection? It cannot be said that it had not been offered, so it may be reasonable to conclude that the advice was either wilfully refused or possible that those responsible for the children just didn’t get round to it, or forgot to attend.

            Yet amid all the publicity and concern, no one seems to have raised this question: just why was the advice not taken up? The study that claimed a link between the Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism was refuted decades ago. You will find few, if any, doctors who have not had their children vaccinated.

            Had the Health Service itself been similarly negligent there would be recriminations a-plenty and a demand that heads should roll.

            No – this sorry episode illustrates well a point I have made repeatedly: there is no sanction against people who ignore health promoting and disease prevention advice. The NHS is a partnership between professionals and patients, for goodness sake. Only the best is acceptable from the professionals, but precious little it seems from the customers. Little wonder that so much chronic illness and death can be attributed to deliberate lifestyle choice.

            But is it not shameful that children should suffer as a consequence of bad decisions made by those who are responsible for them.


  1. Here in Costa Rica vaccination is compulsory for all children - unless there is a real medical reason for not so doing.
    A number of American immigrants refuse to accept this, and go to the lengths of keeping their children out of the school system completely in order to avoid vaccinations.

  2. The case against Andrew Wakefields's case seems not to have been made to the satisfaction of the public. This is surely the wake-up call that people, rightly or wrongly, are dissatisfied with MMR and it's time to bring back single vaccinations.

  3. Can there ever be any justification for determining good policy (vaccination programmes in this case) on any premise other than sound evidence? Sadly, it seems that there is a section of the population that rejects evidence based on good research for one reason or another.

    So few now remember the scourge of polio and the terror that its spectre inflicted upon the parents of young children. Not to mention smallpox.

    The cost of credulity is enormous and vastly tragic.