By: Smith, Rebecca
New data shows that more children in England and Wales are being vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) than at any time since 1997-1998. Uptake rates declined significantly after the publication of a study in 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that suggested the MMR vaccine was associated with autism and bowel conditions. Wakefield’s research has since been discredited and formally withdrawn by The Lancet medical journal. In 2003-2004, fewer than eight in 10 children were vaccinated, but in some areas, less than half of children received the vaccine. New data from the United Kingdom’s Health and Social Care Information Centre reveals that the number of children having had their first dose of MMR by their second birthday was 91.2 percent in 2011, the highest level recorded since 1997-1998. The World Health Organization recommends that 95 percent of children receive the vaccine to provide “herd immunity,” where a critical mass of the population have been immunized to prevent outbreaks of the disease and protect vulnerable children who cannot be inoculated. Coverage for the pneumococcal vaccine, which guards against a range of bacteria that can cause ear infections, blood poisoning, pneumonia, and some forms of meningitis, has also passed 90 percent for the first time.