40000 children in Wales still not vaccinated against measles

He said that, as a result, there were many parts of the country which do not
have vaccination rates high enough to stop the spread of measles.

“Across Wales as a whole there are many, many children who have not had
their MMR – we estimate over 40,000 children across Wales – so there is a
real possibility that it could seed from Swansea to other parts of Wales and
potentially take a grip there,” he said.

“Nowhere in Wales is safe from measles and I think that is true of the UK
as a whole.”

He warned that the outbreak could last until the summer holidays as the
disease can spread rapidly in schools.

Although the epidemic is based in Swansea, cases continue to be reported
across Wales. Officials have raised concerns about the number of cases in

It comes as the Government dismissed claims by Dr Wakefield that officials
were responsible for the current outbreak.

Writing on the US website, Age of Autism, Dr Wakefield, who was struck off
over the MMR controversy, blamed the rise in measles in the UK on the
Government’s decision to withdraw import licences for single vaccines in
September 1998, six months after his discredited paper first appeared in
medical journal The Lancet and raised concern about the vaccine.

The paper, which has subsequently been retracted by The Lancet, linked the
vaccine to an increased risk of bowel disease and autism. Dr Wakefield said
he recommended the use of single measles vaccine in preference to MMR.

“This remains my position,” he said.

While MMR vaccination uptake fell from February 1998, there was a reciprocal
increase in the uptake of the single vaccines, he said.

“Vaccination clinics administered many thousands of doses of measles
vaccine and children were ‘protected’.

“Six months later, in September 1998, the British Government withdrew the
importation licence for the single vaccines, effectively blocking this
option for parents.

“Measles cases in the UK rose when the government withdrew the
importation licence for the single measles vaccine leaving concerned parents
with no choice.”

He added: “The government’s concern appeared to be to protect the MMR
programme over and above the protection of children.”

He said two MMR vaccine brands had to be withdrawn for safety reasons.

These had been approved despite warnings of the dangers. “These
government officials put price before children’s health and have been
seeking to cover up this shameful fact ever since.”

However, a Department of Health spokesman said: “Dr Andrew Wakefield’s
claims are completely incorrect.

“Immunisation advice from the department has always kept the interests of
patients paramount. Measles is a highly infectious and harmful disease. If
your child has not had two doses of MMR, whatever their age, we urge you to
contact your GP surgery and make an appointment.”

The disease is caused by a virus spread in droplets and is easy to catch by
those who have not been vaccinated.

Symptoms include fever, cough, conjunctivitis and a rash. Complications are
quite common even in healthy people, and about a fifth of reported cases
experience one or more complication. The death rate is around one in every
1,000 infected in developed countries.

Before the introduction of the MMR jab in 1988, about half a million children
caught measles each year in the UK. Approximately 100 of those died.

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