The BBC has reported on an increase in cases of measles in England and Wales. According to HPA figures, 275 confirmed cases of measles were reported between January and April. There were 33 cases for the same period in 2010. The HPA press release has notes with further details: a breakdown of cases by region; a note that the figure of 275 is provisional* and likely to be higher; and figures for uptake of MMR vaccine from September to December 2010. Read the rest of this entry »
Guest blogpost from Peter Flegg, UK doctor.
A BBC Report on the MMR vaccine has no link to JABS and no quote from any JABS spokesperson. Good. The piece also accurately reports that the study which raised the possibility that MMR could be linked to autism has since been dismissed and points out that measles can be fatal – i.e., failing to immunise leaves children at actual risk of serious illness as opposed to the hypothetical risk proposed by Andrew Wakefield’s research that turned out not to be a risk at all (partly because Wakefield’s results were false positives, as shown by Chadwick, known by Wakefield and ignored by the media).
An epidemic of measles – which can be fatal – could potentially affect up to 100,000 young people in England alone. The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Experts say it is perfectly safe, but vaccination rates dipped following controversy about its safety. A study which raised the possibility that MMR was linked to autism has since been dismissed by the vast majority of research, but levels of public confidence in the jab have still not fully recovered.
Why is this such an important story? Two reasons, really. As reported on the BBC’s website, in 2006 and 2007 there were 1,726 confirmed cases in England and Wales (more than the previous 10 years put together – from 1996 to 2005 there was a total of 1,621 confirmed cases), and the Department of Health says around 10% of measles cases require hospital admission and one in 5,000 are fatal. As the BBC point out: An epidemic of measles – which can be fatal – could potentially affect up to 100,000 young people in England alone. I reckon that could mean around 10,000 hospitalisations and 20 deaths going by the DoH figures. This shit is important – which is why the media really should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating this ridiculous hoax, why Wakefield should think long and hard about his part in all this, and why the public should stop and think before reacting to health news stories. Nothing is 100% guaranteed safe for all people in any situation, but providing your children with the MMR jab was always safer than denying it to them. Ben Goldacre and the others who tried to explain the safety of MMR and the flaws in Wakefield’s study were always right on MMR and JABS, Wakefield, the panicking public and the stupid, irresponsible lifestyle journalists were always wrong. Wonder if any of them will admit to being wrong? Don’t hold your breath.
The report has a comments form at the end, so anyone who wishes to make their views known can do so – whether they are from JABS, from another organisation or an individual. So the BBC have not linked to or quoted one particular group of parents (JABS), but are inviting comment from any parent. I think this is a reasonable way to provide balance – rather than censoring JABS, the BBC have actually opened an avenue whereby a larger section of the public can have their say and this section of the public can include JABS members. This is possibly the fairest outcome the BBC could have managed and I think strikes a better balance between responsibility and free speech than was managed in the past.
H/T Gimpy and Superburger for posting the BBC story.