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    Default Children without MMR jabs should be banned from school

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    2nd November 2010:

    Children who haven't had the MMR jab should be banned from schools, according to a leading doctor.

    Dr Sohail Bhatti, a director of one of the largest health trusts in Britain, said the draconian measure was the only way to ensure higher uptake of the vaccine.

    Since the MMR scare more than 12 years ago the number of children receiving the combined jab for measles, mumps and rubella has fallen by a third in some parts of the country.

    At the same time cases of measles and mumps, which are particularly infectious, have increased ten fold.

    Dr Bhatti, director of public health at East Lancashire Primary Care Trust, said parents had a "responsibility" to ensure their children were immunised.

    He said that many still feared potential side effects, despite the fact that Dr Andrew Wakefield's study which first prompted the scare had since been discredited.

    Dr Bhatti, a GP who has advised several PCTs on public health initiatives, is now trying to negotiate school admission changes with Lancashire County Council to include the jab amongst the criteria.

    He said: 'If you like it's a radical idea, but I feel an appropriate suggestion for East Lancashire is that we change nurseries and schools admission policies so parents realise they have a due diligence responsibility for not infecting their children and their friends' children.

    'I'm not saying vaccination should be obligatory. But at the very least parents should have a duty to inform schools, nurseries and doctors if they have decided not to have it.'

    Fears over the MMR jab were first raised in 1998 when Dr Wakefield published a study in the highly respected Lancet medical journal claiming it was linked to autism and bowel disorders.

    It led to hundreds of thousands of parents boycotting the vaccine while at the same time there was a surge in cases of measles and mumps which were previously almost non -existent in some parts of the country.

    In 2006 a 13-year-old boy died in the country's first measles fatality for 14 years and another death followed two years later.

    The Lancet retracted the study in 2004 and Dr Wakefield became increasingly ostracised by the medical profession as numerous studies showed there was no link between the jab and autism.

    In May he was finally struck off by the General Medical Council following a extensive three-year hearing and accused of "callously disregarding" vulnerable children.

    The panel were highly critical of his research methods which included giving children a 5 reward if they gave blood samples at his son's birthday party.

    But although his findings have since been disputed, uptake of the MMR jab still remains worryingly low.

    Cases of measles are also rising and there are now around 1,200 a year, ten times the amount in 1997.
    ...being a human...



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