MMR Vaccines – A Jab in the Dark
Extract from: A Jab in the Dark,
The Independent, 12/11/96, by Dina Rabinovitch.
Dr Philip Monk is
immunisation Co-ordinator for Leicestershire, where he also runs a vaccine
helpline. He explained that there are two reasons for introducing the MMR
booster. "The first one is that the MMR 'takes' in nine out of 10
children. So in order to catch the one of 10 for whom it has not been
effective, we give the booster.
The second reason for the booster is that
within the field of vaccine research it has become clear that if you administer
a vaccine and then measure for antibodies, five years later a minority of the
recipients will no longer have antibodies to the disease and 10 years later many
more will be without antibodies. So by and large, 10 years seems to be the time
the vaccine lasts."
Most adults over 40 in this
country, he added, will have been exposed to measles as children, so are
therefore immune. "So what are we trying to do now is protect the age
group we believe to be most susceptible, the 0-10 year olds." But what
about when those four-year-olds reach 14 and immunity possibly ends? I asked.
Won't they then be exposed to childhood illnesses at an age when it could be
By that time, he replied, doctors assume the diseases will have
been eradicated - but they don't know for sure. "And," he continued, 'just to confuse the picture, in recent
years, evidence has been emerging that you may still be immune to a disease
even though you have no detectable antibodies."
Editor - Regarding the 'antibody' theory, the fallacy of this
was exposed nearly 50 years ago, which is hardly recent. A report published
by the Medical Research Council entitled 'A study of diphtheria in two areas of
Gt. Britain, Special report series 272, HMSO 1950 demonstrated that many of the diphtheria patients had high levels of
circulating antibodies, whereas many of the contacts who remained perfectly
well had low antibodies.