Online Program

A community at peril

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.

Quentin Sandifer, Dr., Public Health Services, Public Health Wales, Cardiff. CF11 9LJ, Wales
Discredited research and a damaging press campaign left a cohort of children now aged 10-18 years old vulnerable to measles, mumps and rubella. Following the publication of a paper by the Lancet, claiming to show a link between MMR vaccine, autism and bowel disease, and a sustained local press campaign against the MMR vaccine in Swansea, South Wales, MMR uptake rates overall fell 13.5% in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot from a high of 93.8% in 1996 (compared to a 2.2% drop elsewhere in Wales). By 2003 rates in some communities had fallen as low as 65%. For more than a decade health services worked together to re-engage with those parents who had refused the MMR for their children because they feared its link to autism. Although much was achieved over that time period – uptake rates of first dose MMR reached 93% again only in 2011 – one in six children aged between 10 and 18 years were still partially or unvaccinated against measles.

Learning Areas:

Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control

Learning Objectives:
Explain why a measles outbreak in South West Wales was an ‘accident waiting to happen’. Demonstrate the effects of misinterpretation of research findings and negative media coverage on parental attitude to vaccines.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Executive Director of Public Health Services with responsibility for health protection and microbiology services provided in Wales.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.