Dr Richard Halvorsen

offering vaccine choice

Convenience ahead of safety

The government's announcement that toddlers are to be given six vaccines in three injections all at once between 12 and 13 months of age confirms my fear that expediency is more important to policymakers than safety. The MMR vaccine will now be given to young children in the UK alongside the pneumococcal and Hib-Men C boosters. This 6-in-1 combination is approaching the 9-in-1 combination, which also included an MMR, that caused 19 month old Hannah Poling to descend into an autistic regression. I would be reluctant to recommend the MMR vaccine, with its high incidence of side-effects, to anyone, but if it is going to be given, it should not be in conjunction with any other vaccines. The tendency to give more and more vaccines at one go may increase uptake, though it may equally well put parents off. It undoubtedly saves time and resources and is therefore cheaper. The trouble is that, in susceptible children, it may be more dangerous. The problem, as is too often the case, is that there is no long-term research on giving all the vaccines together – so we just don't know. Yet again, convenience wins over safety.

Added 23 Nov 2010