The Evening Chronicle, 24/03/2003
Family doctors in the north-east of England could soon give single measles, mumps and rubella jabs at their surgeries.
Anxious Tyneside parents have snubbed the combined MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) injection and flocked to visiting single-jab clinics over fears that the triple vaccine could be linked to autism and bowel disorders.
Now a number of National Health Service general practitioners in the North East could be offering an alternative to the triple vaccine.
Despite claims from the medical profession that the combined jab is safe, parents are paying Â£240 for their children to have three singles. And a London single jab supplier, Healthchoice UK, confirmed on March 24 that it was in talks with doctors in the area. The firm said it would take care of all the paperwork and supply vaccines.
Healthchoice UK's director, Kathryn Durnford, said: "We are doing a deal with doctors as a lot of patients would prefer to go their own GPs. We have been talking to doctors in the North East and some could even start giving single vaccines in a month or less."
A mother-of-two, Leigh Scully, who struggled to find a single jab clinic for her son, Taylor, welcomed the news. Scully, 30, of Preston Grange, North Shields, said: "It would be so much easier if parents could go to their GP for this. But not all will. I have spoken to a number of parents who have come under criticism from their doctor for not wanting MMR."
The triple jab was first introduced in 1988. NHS doctors get a British government fee if they reach MMR targets.
Dr George Rae, the British Medical Association's North East official, said: "Parents are getting a false assurance from single vaccines. This was tried before in Japan and as a result there were 80 measles deaths. This is not a solution to the problem, and the more vaccinations that parents have to get the less likely they are to abide by the course. Single jabs are not the answer. The scientific evidence is that MMR is the way forward."