I’M WRITING in response to Katy Rice’s article (Argus debate page, May 7) about children’s vaccinations.

She wants parents to have the option of separate vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella because some people still believe the that the injections when given as a single MMR dose can cause autism, even though the autism “evidence” was disproved many years ago and Wakefield struck off the medical register.

The other option she mentions is “boosting natural immunity”. Well yes, a great idea, except that natural immunity occurs by encountering the disease-causing bacterium/virus, i.e. getting the infection; so that next time the body encounters the pathogen the immune system reacts against it.

This is “natural’ and what happened before vaccines were available. The trouble is that a significant minority of people became seriously, even fatally ill.

Vaccines do the same thing without the side effects of the full-blown illness. Yes, they are made by Big Pharma, it’s their job - just as selling fruit and veg is the job of, say, M&S but we don’t refuse their wares because they make money.

So, sticking with the measles/mumps/rubella triple vaccine: what happens if children or adults get these infections?

Measles is often a serious disease and can, and does, lead to severe chest, ear and eye complications and even death from measles encephalitis.

Mumps is a minor, if painful, infection in children but if an adult male goes down with it he can get inflammation of the testes: very painful and can cause sterility.

Rubella (German measles) is again a minor illness but very dangerous to the unborn child in the first few weeks of the pregnancy (when the woman may not even recognise she is pregnant). Many children were disabled in the past from “Rubella syndrome”.

And then there are those children who cannot be vaccinated because they are too young or have problems with their immune system. They are at risk if they contact an infected person.

Another frequent anti-vaccine argument (though not one mentioned by Katy) is the “oh, all these illnesses have died out naturally, so no need for vaccination these days”. Well – they haven’t. There have been outbreaks of diphtheria in Eastern Europe in recent years and polio in Pakistan, where some Islamists claim the vaccine is an American plot to sterilise Muslims. And, of course, measles here and now and in this country.

To eliminate these infections it’s necessary to have approximately 90 per cent of the population immune: “herd immunity”. Single injections, instead of all-in-one, work too but why subject your child to extra jabs because of a piece of ancient fake news?

Finally, of course the Government should listen but I don’t agree that unvaccinated kids should be allowed to endanger the rest. If parents want separate injections instead of MMR fine - as long as the NHS doesn’t have to pick up the extra expense.

Oh, and by the way, smallpox vaccination was compulsory in this country when I was a kid. Not now though: that deadly disease really has been eliminated from the world.

Liz Robinson

Retired GP – and nothing to do with Big Pharma!

Queens Park Rise