Ban on vaccine sparks new alert

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The Independent Online
A NEW vaccination scare erupted as the Government said it had banned the import of a single-vaccine substitute for the MMR immunisation against measles, mumps and rubella.

The Medicines Control Agency said it was acting against an importer, IDIS, which had declared its intention to import single-dose vaccines, because of growing evidence that they did not work.

Demand for the vaccines has been growing since research published last year suggested a possible link between the triple MMR vaccine and bowel disease and autism. Although subsequent studies failed to confirm the findings,parents have continued to demand immunisation in three separate doses.

No company makes the single vaccines in the UK since the French manufacturer Pasteur Merieux withdrew from the market last year. In response to growing demand, IDIS told the Medicines Control Agency it intended importing the single vaccines last February but the MCA blocked the move.

Last night the Department of Health said the decision was taken on safety grounds. Research published in the British Medical Journal this month showed that the mumps vaccine previously imported by IDIS did not offer any protection against the disease.

The Department of Health said: "Parents whose children have been given this vaccine should be aware their children may not be protected and should give careful consideration to agreeing to MMR vaccination ..."

The ban only applied to unlicensed medicines imported by IDIS. Some parents have obtained single-dose vaccines from suppliers on the Continent on a named-patient basis and these would not be affected.