RECENT CONCERNS REGARDING MMR VACCINE
Drs A Wakefield and SM
Montgomery have published an article in Adverse Drug Reaction and
Toxicologica Reviews ("Measles, mumps, rubella vaccine: Through a
glass darkly" 29 January 2001) suggesting that the MMR vaccines
were licensed prematurely. Dr Wakefield has previously published
articles describing the reputed association between measles infection,
measles vaccine and Crohn's Disease and autism. While his present
article reviews the overall situation and his earlier work, it does
not provide any new data.
WHO has noted that other scientists have not been
able to reproduce the results claimed by Dr Wakefield and his team
regarding measles virus in the gut. His published observations
regarding the onset of autism following administration of MMR vaccine
do not meet the scientific criteria required to suggest that the
vaccine is the cause. Other studies not cited by Dr Wakefield find no
link with autism or Crohn's disease.
WHO strongly endorses the use of MMR (measles,
mumps and rubella) vaccine on the grounds of its convincing record of
safety and efficacy.
The combination vaccine is recommended rather than
monovalent presentation when available and the disease burden
justifies its use.
There has been no new scientific evidence that
would suggest impaired safety of MMR. On the contrary, all results
from vaccine trials published reaffirm the high safety and efficacy of
Measles is a major killer of children mainly in
developing countries, accounting for approximately 875 000 deaths each
year. However, recent outbreaks in industrialized countries have
highlighted the importance of improving measles immunization coverage
throughout the world. Congenital Rubella Syndrome is an important
cause of deafness, blindness and mental retardation. It is estimated
that more than 100 000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome occur each
year worldwide. Mumps is an acute infectious disease. Although the
disease is mild, up to 10% of patients can develop aseptic meningitis:
a less common but more serious complication is encephalitis, which can
result in death or disability.
These three communicable diseases could be easily
prevented through immunization.
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