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Newspaper defends anti-MMR campaign

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The Swansea measles epidemic has prompted a newspaper based in the city to defend the anti-MMR vaccine campaign it ran in the 1990s.

Claims have been made that the South Wales Evening Post campaign in the mid-1990s could have been responsible for a lower uptake of the MMR vaccine in the Swansea area.

Health officials there say between 15 and 20 new cases are being confirmed each day, with the total number of confirmed cases standing at 588 at the end of last week. Hundreds have already been vaccinated at special drop-in clinics, with parents in Swansea, Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot being urged to have their children vaccinated before they go back to school after the Easter holiday.

The local newspaper’s editor, Jonathan Roberts, admitted the campaign had been hard-hitting but said it reflected parents’ “genuine” concerns about the MMR jab’s safety.

He said it was easy to be critical in hindsight but said the paper had given the concerns about MMR in the mid-1990s “full and responsible coverage”.

Mr Roberts, who was set to host a live webchat on the paper’s website from 2.30pm on April 9, added: “To judge it honestly and fairly, one has to consider the fear which existed at the time, the fact that medical experts were publicly expressing concerns about the vaccine and the duty of this paper to reflect public opinion.”

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board’s director of public health, Sara Hayes, said many children who didn’t have an MMR jab when they were younger would be sitting their exams when they returned to school.

She said: “We are not in any way judgmental about why their children may have missed the MMR in the past. The important thing is that they get the jab now.”

Sign our Speak Out Safely petition to support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from the Francis report that will increase protection for staff who raise concerns about patient care.


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