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Subject: MMR Vaccine goes Quadruple...
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 23:45:14 -0800

From the UK.....

No URL (scanned in I assume)
16 November 2001 Private Eye

Dr David Salisbury, head of immunisation at the department of health, has confirmed that the government is considering introducing a new chicken pox vaccine. One option is to combine the new shot with the controversial triple MMR jab.

Much to the dismay of parents who beleive their children have been damaged by MMR and who want more research into their children's conditions, a trial of the quadruple jab involving 200 children is already under way in Sheffield.

Last week the government also introduced another triple jab, combining a new whooping-cough booster for pre-school four year olds with the existing diphtheria and tetanus injection, to be called DTaP. Pre-school vaccines are now one triple DTaP injection, one triple MMR shot and polio drops. Yet this increase in administering multi-doses of vaccines into immature bodies comes at a time when there is increasing concern about their potential combined effects.

This week the US Institute of Medicine immunisation safety review is looking at "multiple immunisation and immune system dysfunction", specifically examining two areas of concern. Does the number of vaccines administered "overload" the capacity of the infant's immature immune system, perhaps impairing immunity to other infections or altering the body's tolerance to self-antigens, thereby contributing to a greater risk for allergic or auto-immune disease? And is there a relationship between any of these proposed outcomes and the number, the route of administration, or the nature of the vaccines and vaccine antigens?

By the time they have reached five, children in the UK will have received no fewer than 25 vaccines - 15 of these given in the first five months of life. This compares to a total of 16 being given in 1988 (with only eight before five months) and before the introduction of MMR.

Lawyers and families involved in the two multi-million pound legal actions against the pharmaceutical companies now underway in both the US and the UK, maintain the increase in vaccine and increase in auto-immune disease, like autism, is no coincidence and that the answer to both the IOM questions is: yes.

Of course they have yet to prove their case. But should the government be careering down the multi-vaccine road until it has definitive answers? David Salisbury at the department of health clearly believes so, recently dismissing concerns thus: " There remains no study that identifies evidence of a link between MMR and autism. And I hope that soon, some of the silliness about MMR will have gone."

Er... except that one of the latest studies published in the journal Adverse Drug Reactions suggests all the vaccine safety tests for the triple jab - and the more recent studies looking for possible links - are useless because not one of them followed up any children for more than a few weeks.

Prof. Walter Spitzer, a professor of epidemiology in Canada, and Scottish child psychiatrist Ken Aitken, found that children who developed autism after receiving the jab were diagnosed on average about two and a half years after the jab. Therefore, the authors argued, it was "grossly inappropriate to argue that there is no connection if post jab follow-up only lasted six weeks".

"The findings reported here warrant repeating prospective and historical safety studies or undertaking them for the first time, in most countries. Such studies should be planned with adequate length of follow-up - ie at least three years."

That has not happened with this month's introduction of the latest whooping cough booster - a disease said to cause about nine deaths a year, despite high vaccine uptake of about 95 percent. It was introduced after a DoH-funded study at the Public Health Laboratory Service looked at its administration along with MMR and "identified no safety concerns". The follow-up was for only six weeks.

A department of health spokesman said the UK had one of the largest and most successful immunisation programmes. "If there are vaccines being looked at and coming on to the market, which will protect people against disease or even death, we would be criticised if we ignore it," he said.

Next issue of Private Eye: MMR - the experts answer back
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