MMR vaccine uptake rates have finally recovered from the Dr Wakefield autism scandal as new figures show more than nine in ten now have the jab, the highest in 14 years.
More children are now being vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella than at any time since 1997/8, new data shows. Uptake rates plummeted following the publication in 1998 of a study suggesting the MMR jab was linked to autism and bowel conditions by Dr Andrew Wakefield who then worked at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
At its lowest, in 2003/4, fewer than eight in ten children were vaccinated but in some areas less than half of children received the jab. The research has since been discredited and formally withdrawn by The Lancet medical journal, while Dr Wakefield has been struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council for unethical and inappropriate research practices relating to the study. Figures released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that the number of children having had their first dose of MMR by their second birthday was 91.2 per cent last year. This is the highest level recorded since 1997/8.
MMR uptake rates were the highest ever in 1995/6 when 91.8 per cent of children received the jab.
The MMR vaccine controversy was a case of scientific misconduct which triggered a health scare. It followed the publication in 1998 of a paper in the medical journal The Lancet which presented apparent evidence that autism spectrum disorders could be caused by the MMR vaccine, an immunization against measles, mumps and rubella.
T he claims in Wakefield’s 1998 The Lancet article were widely reported and as a result vaccination rates in the UK and Ireland dropped sharply. This was followed by significantly increased incidence of measles and mumps, resulting in deaths and severe and permanent injuries