UK

Measles Epidemic: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt Vows To 'Slay the Myth' Over MMR Jab

23/04/2013 17:56 BST

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the "myth" surrounding the MMR jab must be "slayed".

Shamed doctor Andrew Wakefield was struck off the medical register for his discredited research which claimed to find a link between autism and the MMR vaccine.

mmr jab

Jeremy Hunt described the MMR scare as 'appalling'

The study, published in 1998, caused a global scare and uptake levels of the vaccination - which protects against measles, mumps and rubella - fell significantly in the years after its publication.

Speaking to the Health Select Committee, Mr Hunt said: "We certainly must not think of this as something that is just happening in Wales.

"We need to use this as a moment to slay the myth about MMR and I do detect a turning point in terms of the public's attitudes towards this.

"But there is still that critical 11 to 15-year-old age group that may not have been vaccinated because they were toddlers at precisely the time when the MMR scare was so appallingly whipped up.

"I want to reassure you, we are taking this extremely seriously inside the Department of Health."

Mr Hunt's comments come after an outbreak of measles in south Wales is believed to have killed one man and left 700 suffering from the disease.

However, the Department of Health (DoH) has denied that government policy in the 1990s had a part to play in parents' decision not to vaccinate their children.

Dr Wakefield's report on the link between the MMR jab and autism in children lead to many parents not vaccinating their children but it would be "completely incorrect" to blame the DoH, a spokesperson said.