I've found out people are reading this blog - the hard way! In my previous post: A series of links, I was mouthing off about the MMR controversy, and I've given the impression that I'm opposed to the vaccination. I asked for information about research - and got it!
My thanks to Clark Bartram of Unintelligent Design for sending me a link about the research. I'm posting it here, so that the information can be shared.
I cannot stress too strongly the importance of getting children vaccinated. I don't have any kids myself, but if I had, I would have no hesitation in giving them the MMR vaccine. And I wouldn't ask for the single vaccines either. There are very good reasons for insisting on the all-in-one vaccine, and the Government were correct to insist on it. Sometimes the right thing to do is not popular.
My problem is not with Government policy. Good vaccination cover will prevent the spread of these diseases and the misery they could cause. It's the presentation of that policy that is the problem. The public do not trust the politicians. When the politicians start insisting that the public follow a particular course of action (ie use the MMR vaccine), the public assume the politicians have a, as yet unrevealed, hidden agenda. And the more the Government insist, the more the public resist. When the public agree to compromise, by taking single vaccines, and they are rebuffed (for perfectly valid reasons), it only confirms their belief that the Government has something to hide.
The Government strategy, in short, is flawed.
Now I'm speaking from hindsight, a luxury the Government didn't have at the time. They were also up against massive public irrationality which is a powerful force (take religion for example).
It's easy to say they should have done something different, it's a lot harder to say what they should have done. To be honest, I would have probably gone for the same hardball approach they did.
But the problem still remains, and now Dr Wakefield is up before the GMC and faces being struck off. This will bring the whole controversy back into the news and may possibly affect the vaccination programme again.
What should the Government do?