Suffolk MMR uptake is worse than Brazil

THE take-up rate of the MMR vaccine in the county is worse than in the slums of Brazil a West Suffolk doctor said last night.Dr Torbjorn Sundkvist, speaking to the board of Suffolk West NHS Primary Care Trust dismissed links between the all in one Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine and autism as "junk science" and described the number of immunised children in the region as "a disgrace.

THE take-up rate of the MMR vaccine in the county is worse than in the slums of Brazil a West Suffolk doctor said last night.

Dr Torbjorn Sundkvist, speaking to the board of Suffolk West NHS Primary Care Trust dismissed links between the all in one Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine and autism as "junk science" and described the number of immunised children in the region as "a disgrace."

Delivering his annual report to the board yesterday, Dr Sundkvist, consultant in communicable disease control at the Suffolk Health Protection Unit, said only 80% of two-year-old children in Suffolk had been vaccinated. Also a proportion of them were only having the first stage of the vaccine, which was one of the worst figures in the country outside London.

He said: "You need two doses of the vaccine for it to be effective and we calculate that one in four children is going into school is susceptible to measles."

He added: "In Brazil there is a 90 per cent MMR up take in the slums of Rio and they haven't had an outbreak of measles in years."

According to Dr Sundkvist's report there have been two outbreaks of measles in Suffolk the last two years, and although he acknowledged that the majority of those infected make a full recovery he said 20 to 30 per cent can develop complications and one in every 1,000 dies.

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He stated: "Every child killed by this preventable disease is a public health scandal and should be a heavy burden on the conscience of the anti-MMR zealots."

Dr Sundkvist also said he thought the only way of achieving a boost in MMR vaccination figures would be "in the event of a large outbreak of measles."

Tony Ranzetta, chief executive of the primary care trust, endorsed Dr Sundkvist's stance and called for support for health staff who are dealing with parents concerned about the vaccine.

He said: "We have to get the information to our front line staff to enable them to have conversations with well-read, articulate women who are picking up junk science books."

Dr Sundkvist said evidence that children were being vaccinated for other diseases showed that it was a conscious decision by parents put off by bad publicity not to give their children the MMR vaccine.

Jonathan Harris of support group Justice Damage Support said there should be an immediate return to he old single vaccine system and an independent clinical study into the effects of MMR.

Earlier this week England's chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said the original report by Dr Andrew Wakefield linking the MMR vaccine with autism was flawed as it emerged Dr Wakefield had been paid by lawyers acting on behalf of parents claiming their children had been damaged by the vaccine.

The General Medical Council is preparing to investigate the matter and figures released by the Government last year showed that the national average for MMR uptake was 82 per cent, the lowest figure since 1989.

Mark Ereria, chief executive of the Action for Brazil's Children Trust, said that immunisation figures were generally higher in Brazil than in the UK, but the Brazilian child mortality rate was one in 27, compared with one in 142 in the UK.

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