Vaccine ban blow to fight against epidemic

The decision by Ampleforth and Stonyhurst, two leading Catholic schools in the North of England, to ban the combined measles/rubella vaccine because it is derived from aborted foetal tissue, is yet another setback in the Government's latest immunisation campaign.

In July, journalists were briefed by Dr Kenneth Calman, the Chief Medical Officer on a measles epidemic expected to hit Britain next year. To avoid the epidemic it had been decided to vaccinate up to 7 million school- age children in a 'blanket campaign' to protect those who had not already been vaccinated - or who had failed to develop immunity after their initial injection. The aim of the briefing was to spread information to parents.

But by the time the campaign was launched on 29 September, most people had forgotten the summer news stories. The launch took place after the sinking of the Baltic ferry, the Estonia, and received minimal media coverage.

Suddenly thousands of parents were being presented with forms from their children's schools asking their consent to the vaccinations, which start next week. Some refused their consent; many threw the forms away.

In the majority of cases the parents knew that their children had been vaccinated; they demanded to know why a second injection was necessary and if it posed an increased risk of side-effects. Family doctors were not prepared for the deluge of queries and the British Medical Association protested to Dr Calman early in October.

Then, earlier this month The Universe, a Catholic weekly paper, reported that the rubella part of the vaccine being used was derived from lung tissue taken from an aborted foetus. The source of the story is believed to be the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Spuc), which had been researching the origins of vaccines for sometime.

A number of vaccines are derived from cell lines originating with two aborted foetuses, known as cell line MRC5 (some rubella, rabies, hepatitis A and oral polio vaccines) and cell line WI38 (some live polio vaccine, chicken pox, cytomegalovirus and rabies). MRC5 was a male foetus aborted in England in 1966; WI38 was a female foetus aborted in Sweden also in the Sixties.

After the Universe story appeared, parents contacted Ampleforth, North Yorkshire, seeking an opinion on the use of the vaccine. According to Fr Jeremy Sierla, head of Ampleforth College Junior School, many felt cheated.

They were being asked for 'informed' consent to vaccination without access to full information.

'We took action to confirm the Universe report and then took a decision not to use the combined vaccine but to use a measles vaccine only. We understood that general immunity to rubella in the population is very high - about 97 per cent - and that gave us the freedom to go with our conscience on this.

If I thought that pulling 420 boys out of the immunisation programme was going to cause widespread harm, then I'd be a fool and a blackguard.'

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone