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Professor Andrew Pollard from the University of Oxford's Department of Paediatrics comments on new research coming out of the US on the potential harms of declining MMR vaccination rates.

Extracts from The Guardian, 24 July 2017, Nicola Davis

'A small decline in the uptake of vaccines could have a dramatic impact on both public health and the economy, research suggests, as concerns about outbreaks of preventable diseases grow in the US and Europe.

The new study reveals that even a 5% drop in uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine among children in the US could result in a threefold increase in measles cases, and cost the public sector millions of dollars.Experts warn that if MMR vaccination coverage in a community drops below a threshold of around 90-95%, so-called “herd immunity” is eroded, increasing the risk of outbreaks.

Immunisation is something that many people think of as personal, but it is actually part of being in a society. Our children really have a right to be protected from this entirely preventable disease. - Professor Andrew Pollard


“We want to protect children’s health as much as we can and that means not only protecting your own children by vaccinating but also making sure the children around you are also vaccinated,” said Nathan Lo, co-author of the study from Stanford University.

Lo stressed that parents should not be concerned about side-effects of vaccination. “The scientific evidence is very clear, abundantly clear, that these vaccines are safe – there is no relationship with autism,” he said. 

Concerns about measles are growing in the UK and the rest of Europe, with both Italy and Romania experiencing large outbreaks this year – a situation which has been linked to the anti-vaccination movement and a misplaced belief that measles is no longer a risk. 

“We know that this is a very dangerous disease for young children,” said Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity at the University of Oxford. “There have been deaths in Europe in the last year because of drops in coverage in various countries.”'

Read the full article, 'Small decline in MMR vaccination rates could have dramatic effect, experts warn' in The Guardian