Thursday, March 5, 2009

EDM 754 - Response from the Secretary of State for Health

I wrote to the Secretary of State for Health requesting him to sign EDM 754 regarding uptake of the MMR vaccine and media coverage. Although parliamentary guidelines advise that cabinet members do not normally sign EDMs, the guidelines do not forbid them from doing so. Here is Alan Johnson's response ...


Dear Mr Gascoigne,

Thank you for your email of 13 February to Alan Johnson about the Early Day Motion (EDM) 754 on the MMR vaccine. As I am sure you will appreciate, Mr Johnson receives a large volume of correspondence and it is not always possible for him to respond personally. Your email has been forwarded to me for reply.

The EDM supports the Government’s position that all children should be vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella. You ask why Alan Johnson, Ed Balls and Gordon Brown have not signed the EDM. It may be helpful if I explain that Ministers and whips do not normally sign EDMs. Further information on who can and cannot sign EDMs is available on the UK Parliament website at (type ‘EDM’ in the search bar and follow the links).

The scientific community has been convinced for a considerable time that there is no link between MMR and autism. Just recently, three US judges who are experts in vaccine claim hearings concluded that there is no association between vaccines and autism. The overwhelming weight of evidence shows that MMR is the safest way to protect against measles, mumps and rubella, and the number of studies demonstrating this is growing. A list of the key studies examining MMR can be found on the NHS immunisation information website, by selecting ‘The Vaccines’, followed by ‘MMR’ and ‘Research timeline’.

The Department of Health’s most immediate concern is that cases of measles are on the rise due to poor vaccine uptake over the past decade. The Department has an MMR catch-up programme now in progress and have provided extra funding to Primary Care Trusts, as well as additional supplies of the vaccine.

The message that the Department is promoting is that MMR is the safest way to protect children against measles, and that it will also protect them against mumps and rubella. Furthermore, it will also help protect those children who cannot have vaccinations for medical reasons.

I hope this reply is helpful.

Your sincerely,

Deepa Shah

Customer Service Centre

Department of Health


HolfordWatch said...

I didn't know about the guidelines for Cabinet Members but even so, that is not wholly satisfactory.

(PS - did you mean to leave your name in the letter?)

Angus said...

And they are only guidelines not rules.

Our anonynimity was blown a whilw back. I omitted the name of their school in a previous post cos I don't want anyone getting closer than the town we live in.

I also wrote the MP of the constitituency where the hospital our daughter is treated at lies ... he hasn't signed or written back which I am disappointed with as many immuno-compromised children are treated there.

Good to know you're reading me! Thanks.

HolfordWatch said...

Yes, when there are many immuno-compromised children I find it immensely frustrating when people like Richard Halvorsen dismiss the deaths of such children as almost inevitable and just a question of time.

Not always, but the prognosis of so many serious childhood illnesses has changed beyond recognition. If children can be protected and supported during critical stages of their lives and illness then more and more they are surviving beyond 5 years. I think that the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study estimates that in 2000, around 1 in 900 US adults was a childhood cancer survivor.

I think that people like Jeni Barnett, various health journalists and Richard Halvorsen have got to lose the idea that serious childhood illness will always end in death so exposure to illnesses such as measles etc. is just bringing that forward a little bit.

The above sounds horribly blunt. But I remember coming across the notion of a Survivors' Bill of Rights that explained the difficulties that some survivors were having because so many young people now survive but various systems etc. have yet to adapt to this reality.