Medicine And The Media

Media dents confidence in MMR vaccine

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7130.561 (Published 14 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:561
  1. Norman Begg, consultant epidemiologist,
  2. Mary Ramsay, consultant epidemiologist,
  3. Joanne White, principal scientist, PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre,
  4. Zoltan Bozoky, project officer, Health Education Authority
  1. London

    Norman Begg and colleagues assess how adverse publicity damages vaccination programmes

    Once again the media have succeeded in denting parents' confidence in childhood immunisation. Coverage of the first dose of MMR vaccine in the United Kingdom fell last quarter after adverse publicity in the press linking MMR vaccine to Crohn's disease (Communicable Disease Report 1998;8:41).

    The national fall in vaccine coverage was 1%, although in 25 (20%) districts and health boards coverage fell by 2% or more. Altogether, about 2000 fewer children were vaccinated than in the previous quarter. The weight of scientific evidence has subsequently shown that these media reports were unfounded (BMJ 1998;316:166) and that there is no causal link between MMR vaccine and Crohn's disease. Nevertheless, the damage to parents' confidence has been done. The press rarely give …

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