Letter: Vaccination brings a better state of health

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am concerned that Tessa Thomas might discourage parents from having their children immunised ('Why child vaccines may be a shot in the dark', 9 February). This would be a great pity.

The immunisation programme in the UK is more successful than ever. More children are being protected against more diseases. The outcome is clear: no child has died from acute measles for three years and during the last two years only one child has died from whooping cough. The Department of Health carefully considers any reports of adverse events. For example, when there were concerns about possible risks from two brands of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, these were replaced.

There are clear, scientifically proven benefits from immunisation. The evidence has been extensively studied and research made available for expert evaluation. Only on Monday you published an article on the successful introduction of Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib) vaccine in the United States. The alternative views, as described in Ms Thomas's article, have not been submitted for scientific scrutiny; they depend on little more than opinion. As far as the success of the NHS childhood immunisation programme is concerned, the facts speak for themselves.

Yours sincerely,

K. C. CALMAN

Chief Medical Officer

Department of Health

London, SW1

10 February

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