MMR: Should we or shouldn't we?

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Indy Lifestyle Online

FOR: Ang Langley, 43, a psychiatric nurse and mother of five children, aged five, eight, 14, 16, and 18, from Bristol:

"I never felt there was a problem with the MMR [or] that the 'problems' with the vaccination were genuine. I felt it was over-hyped in the media which then led to it becoming a political issue. Perhaps my attitude comes from my nursing background or maybe because I have had five children, four of whom were born before the 1998 study, and I had seen that it did not affect them badly. I am not easily panicked so I did not waver when I had my last child and it came to giving her the injection.

The idea that it could harm her did not cross my mind. What was more important was the risk I ran if the children did not have the injection. That is far more dangerous. Also, I wanted to spare the children having three injections.

Unfortunately, I don't think Liam Donaldson's words will be of much comfort to those who are worried about its effects. People who feel very strongly about it will need more to convince them."

AGAINST: Maria Austin, 39, mother of twin girls aged 11 and a son aged seven, lives in Brixton, south London:

"When the controversy arose over MMR, I believed there could be a link with autism. It has not been proven that there is no such link. I have experience with other mothers that suggest that they are linked.

Liam Donaldson's announcement only leaves me thinking why did it all start off in the first place? I am left feeling very suspicious. The concern over MMR a few years ago heightened what I had already felt and I do not feel differently now. I felt a lot of pressure and judgement from other parents and doctors.

I am anti-vaccination and I use homoeopathic medicines on my children, who have never had any conventional vaccinations. I remember when I decided that my youngest son, Barnaby, should not have the MMR, my doctor disapproved and I felt there was an element of bullying going on. She said her children had had the vaccination so why shouldn't mine? Barney is seven years old and is as fit as a fiddle. He had measles in the summer and he sailed through it.

"But at the peak of the MMR controversy, I did think there was hype. There were reporters standing outside my children's school, Sudbourne Primary, where a number of measles cases arose. It was very politicised and I felt it was a pity that Tony Blair took the angle that he did. I think he should have been honest [about whether] his child had had the vaccination. My concern is mothers today are losing their skills of looking after children suffering from childhood diseases.

"My mother's generation would look after children with mumps and measles and know exactly what to do. When Barney had the measles, the doctor's receptionist said she had never seen a child with measles before. I was really shocked. Because doctors are not seeing children with measles, they are not sure how to deal with them.

"Children make amazing recoveries after childhood diseases and I believe they become mentally and physically stronger. It is appalling how many vaccinations a baby is given today at such a young age."

DON'T KNOW: Wendy Pickess, 38, mother of 10-month-old Samuel Pickess, lives with her partner in Brighton:

"We have to decide whether Samuel should have the first MMR jab in the next two to five months. We are both not sure about it and Liam Donaldson's words have made very little difference. There is still a nagging doubt, and I cannot help thinking the 1998 study was based on something, despite the fact that Dr Wakefield himself has been discredited. What is called for is independent research into any possible link between MMR and autism. We, as a family, are determined to take some form of action rather than not do anything at all, so Samuel will either have the two MMR injections or six single jabs, although neither of those come without complications.

"For me, the uncertainty around MMR has been built up through the fear that you could actually do something or have something done to your children that could harm them, despite trying to do the opposite."

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