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Should the MMR vaccination be made compulsory in the UK?

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Introduction

Should the MMR vaccination be made compulsory in the UK? Contents Page 1. Introduction................................................................................................... 3 2. Science......................................................................................................... 3 2.1 How does immunity work?.................................................................. 3 2.2 What is vaccination?........................................................................... 4 2.3 What is the MMR vaccine?................................................................. 5 2.4 What is measles?................................................................................ 6 2.5 What is mumps?................................................................................. 6 2.6 What is rubella?.................................................................................. 6 2.7 What are autism and Crohn's disease?.............................................. 6 3. Arguments for............................................................................................... 7 3.1 Individual immunity............................................................................. 7 3.2 Herd immunity..................................................................................... 7 3.3 Safety record....................................................................................... 8 3.4 Practicality........................................................................................... 8 3.5 Eradication.......................................................................................... 8 4. Arguments against........................................................................................ 8 4.1 Side effects......................................................................................... 8 4.2 Civil rights........................................................................................... 9 4.3 Fears over autism and Crohn's disease............................................. 9 4.4 Single vaccines................................................................................. 10 4.5 Cost................................................................................................... 10 4.6 Unnatural.......................................................................................... 10 5. Is more research the answer?.................................................................... 11 6. Conclusion.................................................................................................. 12 7. Bibliography................................................................................................ 13 1. INTRODUCTION In this case study I will be investigating the combined MMR vaccine and why it is so controversial. I will explain the scientific principles behind the debate and evaluate the arguments for and against making it compulsory in the UK. The MMR vaccine is a triple immunisation shot against measles, mumps and rubella. It was developed by Maurice Hilleman in the late 1960s [1] and first introduced in the UK in 1988 [2]. Since its introduction, more than 500 million doses of the MMR vaccine have been given in over 100 countries worldwide [3]. The MMR vaccination is not currently compulsory in the UK [4], largely because a number of scientific papers and studies, most notably one by a British former surgeon and medical researcher called Dr. Andrew Wakefield, claimed to have evidence linking it with an increased risk of developing autism as well as Crohn's disease. Nevertheless, there are many people who argue that it should still be made compulsory in the UK, while others argue that it should be banned altogether. I chose this question, as it continues to be highly relevant today, more than a decade after the controversy first erupted. ...read more.

Middle

is a disease caused by a virus. In children it is usually mild and may go unnoticed. In children it usually only causes a short lived rash, swollen glands and a sore throat. However, rubella is very serious for unborn babies. If a pregnant woman contracts rubella, it can seriously damage her child's sight, hearing, heart and brain. Rubella infection in the first three months of pregnancy causes damage to the unborn baby in up to nine out of ten cases. This condition is called congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). In many cases, pregnant women catch rubella from their own or their friends' children. Rubella is spread in the same way as measles and mumps, although it is the least infectious of the three diseases. 2.7 What are autism and Crohn's disease? Autism is a terminal and incurable disease in which children's behaviour and learning ability is affected, while Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. 3. ARGUMENTS FOR 3.1 Immunity The strongest argument for making the MMR vaccination compulsory in the UK is that it would protect all individuals who were vaccinated from suffering from measles, mumps or rubella. These diseases are sometimes perceived as relatively mild childhood illnesses. However, the reality is quite different. There is a 0.3% death rate associated with contracting measles in more economically developed countries, with this figure rising up to 28% in poorer countries [14]. The complications of measles include diarrhoea, pneumonia and encephalitis, with 1 in every 15 children contracting the disease being seriously affected [2]. Similarly, mumps can result in permanent deafness, meningitis and encephalitis. Rubella infection in the first 3 months of pregnancies will damage the unborn child in 9 out of 10 cases [15]. Even though vaccinations can have adverse side effects, such effects are significantly more common following the natural disease. It is the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens from these preventable ailments, particularly the country's children. ...read more.

Conclusion

The number of people with autism did not actually change. So while more research can always be done, it would be unnecessary as there is already a huge body of highly credible evidence from around the world supporting the safety of MMR. Some people will always be suspicious of scientific, medical and political authority, and this is not helped by the way in which some sections of the media provide coverage of MMR as though opinion were equally divided about its safety. 6. CONCLUSION In my opinion, the MMR vaccination should be made compulsory in the UK because it would be the most effective way of increasing the uptake of the vaccine to over 95% of the population, ensuring that society would benefit from herd immunity. However, I understand that many people who are still wary about the risk involved in being vaccinated would object to this legislation as an infringement of their civil rights, arguing that they should be allowed to make their own decisions on the treatment of their own bodies. Therefore, I think it would be more reasonable to require children to be vaccinated in order to be admitted to school. This way, the vaccination is not completely compulsory, meaning that those who have particularly strong views against having their children vaccinated could have them educated at home. Nevertheless, this policy would still ensure that a high enough percentage of the population is immunised in order to make the vaccination effective because very few people would be prepared to withdraw their children from school just because they had concerns regarding the safety of the vaccine. This system is already in place in other countries such as the USA and Australia and has proved to be very successful. In the United States, fewer than 200 cases of measles have been reported each year since 1997 and the disease is no longer considered endemic. [24][25][26] Despite this, the government shows no sign of changing its policy and it continues to promote vaccine uptake for all children who are able to receive vaccinations on a voluntary basis. 7. ...read more.

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This is a well written, well balanced case study. The research is accurate and unbiased . 5 stars.

Marked by teacher Louise Star 21/06/2013

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