In April this year, measles epidemic in Wales hit the headline when over 1,000 people had been reported to have caught the disease in the area. Measles is a highly contagious and serious disease. In severe cases, complication can include slow progressive disorder of the brain, which doesn’t manifest until after the infection. The brain degeneration causes seizures and, at worst, death. Fortunately, severe cases only occur in 1 in 100,000 cases. Worldwide, measles is the still one of the biggest killers in children. However, in the UK, measles was effectively eradicated when MMR vaccination was introduced in 1988.
Unfortunately, in 1998, a study conducted by Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed that MMR is associated to bowel disease and autism. The study has been subsequently been found inaccurate, as it only involved 12 children, with no controls and wasn’t designed to check for cause or harm. Additionally, Brian Deer, a journalist discovered that Dr Wakefield received money from lawyers who wanted to sue vaccine manufacturers, two years before he published his study. The British General Medical Council has since struck off Wakefield from the medical register.
However, the media frenzy that followed after the Dr Wakefield’s claim prompted many parents not to have their children vaccinated, leaving many children unprotected. Between 2003 and 2004, less than 8 in 10 children received MMR vaccination. As a result, reported cases of measles started to increase. In 2012, England and Wales recorded 2,016 confirmed measles’ cases, the highest recorded in 18 years.
MMR vaccine doesn’t just protect children from measles. It also protects them from mumps and rubella, which are both highly infections, and can have dangerous complications. Furthermore, if a pregnant adult catches any of these infections, it can cause miscarriage. In case of rubella, if it doesn’t result to miscarriage, the baby may develop CRS (Congenital Rubella Syndrome), which can cause blindness, deafness, and heart or brain damage.