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Measles and MMR

On 16 Apr 2013 at 10:43pm Southover Queen wrote:
A few months ago, we had a discussion here about immunisations and MMR in particular. A significant number of people offered the opinion that (a) measles is a mild disease and it's good for kids to get it and (b) it is rare anyway so there's no need to worry. I'm sure that there's a hangover from the Wakefield MMR scare, and I gather that Lewes has a relatively low take-up rate for childhood jabs.

So I'm just interested in whether people have changed their minds in the wake of the outbreak in Swansea and had their children vaccinated? What was it that convinced you in the end?

(I hope this thread won't fill up with trolls and negative comments. I'm really interested in what motivates health decisions, and I'd love to have a sensible discussion without the usual vitriol)
On 16 Apr 2013 at 10:53pm Brussel Sprout wrote:
Both of my children had the MMR shot according to the recommended schedule. As far as I can see the vaccine is the lesser of two evils.
Also, I hear little comment from people regarding the responsibility towards other peoples children (those that are for some reason unable to be vaccinated) when it comes to vaccinating their own children. I think it's not only a choice you make for your own offspring. There is a bigger picture too.
I did have doubts about the shot but have the good fortune of having a nephew writing his PHD in the field of immunology to discuss them with! Straight information is a help, scaremongering and media hype, however, are not.
On 16 Apr 2013 at 11:03pm Southover Queen wrote:
I agree. That's why it's such an interesting debate: a parent with a healthy child is asked to subject that child to something unpleasant that might at least make him off-colour for a few days, while the chances of it benefiting that child are small. That's largely because of herd immunity, as you suggest - if most kids have the jab the epidemic is not likely to take hold. So it's actually an altruistic thing to do: your actions protect others who are less able to defend themselves.

I have no doubt at all that the media are complicit in this topic: the narrative is incredibly compelling as a single person story. "My child was fine, had the jab and is now autistic." It really doesn't matter to the newspaper whether there's any scientific truth in the story, but if it appears to come from a researcher with a paper in the Lancet - well, go for it!

On 17 Apr 2013 at 6:13am Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I think people underestimate how serious measles can be. When I was a kid, we had a child leave my school to go to a special school because his sight was so badly damaged by having measles. It can also cause a form of encephalitis that can be fatal. I was nearly hospitalised when I had it, but my mother was a nurse and the GP was a family friend and trusted her to judge if I needed to be admitted. Even so, he called and checked on me twice a day for several days.
Herd immunity requires around 85% of people to be vaccinated to work. The Wakefield study has been discredited. Autistic spectrum disorders are now believed to have a strong genetic element.
If you haven't had your kids vax'd, please go and do it.
On 17 Apr 2013 at 7:00am Deelite wrote:
The MMR jab made my boy quite ill for two weeks. We decided not to give it the next one and tried to get three jabs separately. It wasn't possible in the UK so we got them at various times elsewhere. I think the NHS ought to offer them as separate jabs instead of bundling all three into the MMR. It can be too much for a child to be injected with three diseases at once.
On 17 Apr 2013 at 7:36am The old mayor wrote:
It's a source of income the NHS is missing. The option of having three jabs privately for the precious brats.
On 17 Apr 2013 at 11:26am Fairmeadow wrote:
... but plenty of GPs will do it privately, if you prefer to stump up the money.
The reason the three are given separately is (a) no evidence that the risk of 3 x 1 is greater than the risk of 1 x 3 and (b) and your toddler gets protection against the 2nd & 3rd illnesses quicker and (c) it is only one third the cost in NHS staff time. The triple vaccine is also much cheaper because it is produced on a much larger scale. But if something leads you to believe that 1 x 3 is better for your child, no problem, provided you are prepared to pay up. Not the sort of unsubstantiated prejudice you can reasonably expect other people to subsidise.
On 17 Apr 2013 at 12:21pm Southover Queen wrote:
Plus the other problem with the single vaccines is that the evidence is that compliance is much less good.

The whole concept of immunisation has been one of the great gifts of science to mankind: smallpox is eradicated, and polio is nearly vanquished too. The problem is that we don't remember or never experienced the scourge of epidemics, and frankly if we had we would not hesitate, I'm quite sure of it. We are also inherently illogical creatures and very bad at judging risk. For instance, we'd probably all quite happily get a jab against SARS or swine flu, in spite of the fact that only about 75 have ever died of SARS outside China.

I think even when the putative MMR/autism link still appeared to be based on sound science the Wakefield researchers were still saying that the risk of complications arising from "vaccine damage" was minute compared to the risk of contracting one of the target diseases, yet many sensible educated parents demurred.
On 17 Apr 2013 at 12:34pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I was going to mention smallpox too - a horrible disease that is no thankfully no longer an issue.
I think that because we haven't had a measles epidemic for ages because of the vaccination programme, people haver forgotten how serious it can be.
On 17 Apr 2013 at 1:31pm belladonna wrote:
I remember the initial scare and it made me furious that parents were petrified of giving their children the MMR because of such an unscientific study. Of course part of that fear stemmed from the thalidomide scandal.
But what annoys me most of all is the current irresponsible parents (mostly it seems from Lewes New School) who refuse to vaccinate their kids. I have spoken to a couple who say "I had measles and I'm fine" and "I would prefer my child to have the disease to give them immunity". To me that is tantamount to child abuse. Measles can be a horrendous disease, a killer and I have first-hand experience of that as a close friend's child almost died from it. Most of these people seem to think measles is a mild disease and don;t even think about the consequences of non immunisiation.
Not only is it irresponsible for the individual child, it also means 'herd' immunity is lost and more outbreaks occur of the type in Wales. I don't think children who haven't been immunised should be allowed to attend school. This is a requirement in some states of the U.S. and other countries - vaccination certificates need to be shown before children are enrolled. Any who have missed the vaccination can be offered it by the local health authority at school and those who refuse can pay for their own education. Harsh I know, but it's a collective approach that stops these and other horrendous diseases. (See ACT)
On 17 Apr 2013 at 2:52pm sjep76 wrote:
My eldest daughter was at the age of needing her jabs at the height of the MMR scare. The health visitor was almost on a weekly basis leading up to the time of the jabs trying to reassure me to get her immunised. As soon as I said to her that I would prefer my child to be autistic than die of measles she said to me I wished more people thought like that!!
On 17 Apr 2013 at 9:20pm Frank wrote:
What age can they start giving these jabs
On 17 Apr 2013 at 10:40pm Southover Queen wrote:
Around one year of age, and then sometime between three and five years old. I've attached the NHS information page

Check it out here »
On 18 Apr 2013 at 6:29pm The Super K wrote:
For herd immunity you actually need 95% take up, however the GPs only need 93% for their bunce. Lewes is currently at about 92%
On 18 Apr 2013 at 6:48pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I read the other day that in Brixham, 95% of children are vaccinated, but in Totnes, only 70%.
OH reckons that's because all the Totnes hippy types don't agree with it.
I also heard on the radio earlier that there are complications in 15% of measles cases. I was surprised it was that high.
On 18 Apr 2013 at 7:25pm Southover Queen wrote:
Yes, but the vast majority of complications are really minor - a bit of a snuffle, a small rash, a bit of a fever. I think the rate of serious complications (convulsions, anaphylactic reactions for example) is really tiny.

My parents were proto-hippies and stopped us having standard vaccinations. I remember having measles and whooping cough - both horrible. We were kept in a dark room for days because of measles (it protects the eyes, apparently) and were sent away to country to recuperate from whooping cough. I have to say I wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of the jabs myself, but I guess that was obvious!

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