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BMJ Rapid Response to Measles in the UK: Test of Public Health Competency in a Crisis

British-Medical-Journal_0Measles in the UK: a test of public health competency in a crisis
BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f2793 (Published 1 May 2013)

Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2793

Rapid Response from Jackie Fletcher  (see the online thread at BMJ.)

In my opinion public health competency has been tested and it has unequivocally failed the British public.

The authors refer to 'Wakefield's legacy' and seem to imply that problems with MMR vaccine started with the publication of The Lancet case series report in February 1998. This is their preferred start of the MMR controversy because it is more convenient to destroy one man's character than deal with the failings of the DH policy makers.

The DH and JCVI knew before the MMR programme began in October 1988 that 2 of the 3 brands carried a risk of meningitis and the third brand was linked with neurological complications, yet they sanctioned the use of all three brands. [1] [2]

During the first week of the new MMR campaign in 1988 an eighteen month old infant was given it, started with severe convulsions and subsequently died during a seizure. This child was one of a number of children awarded Government recognition of MMR vaccine-damage through vaccine damage payments following medical assessment of the individual cases.

The two Urabe mumps containing brands were subsequently withdrawn in September 1992 after four years of use and having had an 85% share of the MMR UK immunisation programme. As mentioned, the DH and JCVI knew of the link with mumps meningitis from these brands. They also knew it was down to a chance finding due to a cluster of meningitis cases in a short period of time coming to light in a Nottingham hospital which finally led to the full exposure of the problems. The hospital had a strict policy of routinely conducting lumbar punctures whenever a child was brought in following a febrile convulsion and the Urabe mumps vaccine strain showed up in the spinal fluid samples.

And what of the Urabe mumps MMR withdrawal? Did the DH contact every doctor in the country to cross check their patient records to determine if each child who had received either of the brands was developmentally well and thriving to the same degree as before the vaccine was given? The answer is no!

In 1995 the vaccine policy-makers were advised by the Health Protection Agency that the adverse event reporting system needed to be urgently improved because there was a serious under-reporting of side effects. Did they act urgently to make it absolutely compulsory for every serious side effect to be reported and investigated thoroughly. The answer is no!

During a meeting in 1997 with the health minister and top level DH officers the details of 1200 children suspected of suffering MMR/MR life changing or life ending adverse reactions were provided and a specific clinical investigation of each of the children was requested. Did they do this? The answer is no!

The parents of these children called for the continuation of single dose vaccines on the NHS as an acceptable alternative for any new parents concerned about MMR vaccines. Did the DH policy-makers do all in their power to stop the single vaccines from being phased out when the licences came up for renewal? The answer is no!

There was also an attempt to remove the licence from the importers of vaccines for private clinics just for the single measles, mumps and rubella components. Extreme measures to negate parental choice.

And now, when we are told there is an outbreak of measles in the UK there is no let-up by the DH. They continue to spend huge amounts of tax-payers' money to press home the MMR or nothing policy when the simple and money-friendly solution would be to re-instate the single dose vaccines ordered from the same companies currently supplying MMR for the UK market.

The World Health Organisation states in relation to measles vaccine [3]:

'...The measles vaccine has been in use for over 40 years. It is safe, effective and inexpensive. It costs less than one US dollar to immunize a child against measles.

The measles vaccine is often incorporated with rubella and/or mumps vaccines in countries where these illnesses are problems. It is equally effective in the single or combined form...'

Even now, after almost 25 years of the MMR controversy, Public Health spokespersons refer to MMR vaccine as 'perfectly safe'.

Recent press statements include: "...[MMR] is perfectly safe and perfectly effective." "That may mean that some young children will have three MMR jabs....That is not a problem. It is perfectly safe and perfectly effective." and one of the strongest claims: "There's no adverse effect to this extra jab [3rd MMR]....".

These statements should be challenged by everyone as they are totally at odds with the MMR vaccine manufacturers' product sheets and dismiss out of hand the acceptance and payments made by the Government's DWP Vaccine Damage Payment Unit.

The DH vaccine policy-makers continue to blatantly mislead UK parents about vaccine risks putting the MMR programme above informed consent.

Parents should not have to accept their children being sacrificed and dismissed as insignificant casualties by vaccine policy makers in an effort to promote MMR vaccine. These people take no responsibility for vaccine damaged children and then add further insult to injury by denying their very existence.

Sir Liam Donaldson stated this in his opinion piece:

'..The question society needs to answer is whether it is ethically acceptable to tolerate any serious complication, or death, from measles when an effective vaccine is available...'

As the mother of a child brain damaged by MMR vaccine I would re-phrase his words:

The question Sir Liam Donaldson needs to answer is why it is ethically acceptable to tolerate serious complication and death from MMR when an effective single dose vaccine is available for those parents who shun the MMR?

And while we are on the subject I would be very grateful if Sir Liam could explain why the answers to my questions are 'no' instead of 'yes'.



[1] JCVI minutes of meeting February 1988


[2] Joint Sub-committee on Adverse Reactions to Vaccination and Immunisation

Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 8 March 1988 at 10:30am in
Room 1612, Market Towers

'...8. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccines

(c) Five cases of mumps encephalitis following MMR have been reported from Canada. Four of these cases definitely followed the use of vaccine containing Urabe 9 mumps virus and the fifth probably did. This corresponded to a frequency of one per 100,000 doses and no sequelae had been reported in the sufferers. [name omitted] had discussed the incidence of mumps related complications from MMR with the Communicable Disease Center, Atlanta, whose data were unfortunately only superficial on this issue. In the United States, Jeryl Lynn mumps virus is included in MMR but no data were available on parotitis following MMR and many of the reported neurological complications were clearly related to the measles component....'

[3] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/

Competing interests: Mother of MMR vaccine damaged son


Jenny Allan

Also Ed Yazbak's response to Jackie:-

"The monovalent measles vaccine would have been a smart addition to the MMR campaign in the recent measles outbreak,because:
1. It is much cheaper than the MMR
2. It is more effective against measles
3. It has been more extensively investigated in clinical trials
4. It would have been acceptable to those who still had concerns about the triple vaccine
It is regrettable that the decision makers opted again to completely ignore this information that they have always been aware of. "



Mark Struthers

@Joan Campbell

And, like Jackie Fletcher, I don't think Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, the former chief medical officer, should be let off the hook, for his own complicity in this huge patient safety debacle. I agree: it's time for a reckoning.

Joan Campbell

We are nearing the time for UK parents of MMR vaccine injured children to band together and sue David Salisbury/government for allowing this to happen to our beloved children who are innocent in all this.

IAngus Files

Just blanket denial of all government's to seek the truth.

Well said Jackie..



That is very disturbing news re. Sharyl' computer being hacked. Funny that she's been one of the few reporters to focus on certain heal topics!

Big Brother

Project to monitor public confidence in Immunization Programs


The purpose of the project is to monitor public confidence in immunization programs by building an information surveillance system for early monitoring and detection of public concerns around vaccines; applying a diagnostic tool to data collected to determine the risk level of public concerns in terms of their potential to disrupt vaccine programs; and, finally, by detecting public concerns early, to provide analysis and guidance for early response and engagement with the public to ensure sustained confidence in vaccines and immunization.

The Group is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Who ?


CBS confirms reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer breached

CBS News said Friday that it has confirmed a computer used by one of its Washington reporters, Sharyl Attkisson, was breached by an unknown intruder and that the hack appeared to be “sophisticated.”


Thank-you Jackie for this article.

Have the vaccine policy-makers gone too far by removing the single vaccine and replacing it with the MMR vaccine?

Will the public question the efficacy of the MMR if the vaccine policy-makers did a "back-flip" and re-introduce the single vaccine?

There is one thing that I am certain about, and that is the vaccine policy-makers will never admit that they were wrong.

Elizabeth Gillespie-Mum to vaccine injured son.

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