Letter: Vaccination risk 'rare but not trivial'

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The Independent Online
Sir: According to Annabel Ferriman's figures ('Why another needle, Mummy?', 11 October), of the 7 million children targeted for the mass measles/rubella vaccination, only 1.2 million are not already immune. For these the benefits of vaccination will probably outweigh the risks. For the remaining 5.8 million who have had the benefits and are immune, however, only the risks, rare but not trivial, will remain.

These range from joint pains, to arthritis, to neurological disorders, and although these are said to occur less often with second vaccinations, they exist and in some cases cause permanent damage. According to The Patient's Charter, parents are entitled to know all these things and to be told of any alternatives before giving consent, but the leaflet sent to them to sign refers only briefly and dismissively to side effects.

It is obviously easier to vaccinate everyone rather than trace the 1.2 million needing vaccination, and it is also easier to get consent by limiting the amount of information about risk. But every effort should be made to ensure that possible damage from vaccination is kept to the lowest possible minimum, if it cannot be eradicated altogether. This will not happen if 7 million children are hurriedly, and in some cases unnecessarily, vaccinated.

It is interesting that neither in France nor in Germany, where there should be an equal risk of an epidemic, have the health authorities agreed to mass measles/rubella vaccination. They continue with routine immunisation of those who need it, and it is reasonable to ask why we cannot do the same.

Yours faithfully,

ROSEMARY FOX

Association of Parents of

Vaccine Damaged Children

Shipston-on-Stour,

Warwickshire

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