MMR is a popular vaccine developed to treat measles, mumps and rubella (“MMR Vaccines ” par. 1). The vaccine is generated from a mixture of three known live attenuated viruses. MMR vaccine was specifically developed for young children who are about 12 months old. The mode of administering the vaccine is through injection.
MMR vaccine consists of three strains of viruses that have undergone attenuation. The vaccine was developed through propagation of the viral strain inside the human or animal cell. To trigger this viral replication, the virus must be inside a living cell. Therefore, an embryonated egg of a chicken was used to induce the replication process. The principle behind this attenuated or neuroattenuated vaccine is that, they are first weakened and made harmless to the human body. The antigenicity of the virus is maintained inorder to induce production of antibodies once injected to the patient (“MMR Vaccines “, 2012).
MMR is a triple action vaccine that offers protection from measles, mumps and rubella diseases. Moreover, the vaccine is capable of triggering body immunity through a less painful administration procedure which is contrary to single shot method (Vaccine Information Statement par. 15). Measles is known to be endemic worldwide. The young infants who are not vaccinated are more prone to this disease. It is a viral disease, which is highly contagious. The disease begins with fever, running nose and even conjunctivitis (Vaccine Information Statement par. 2).
Mumps is also another viral disease which mostly attacks young children. Medically, it is believed that if mumps attacks a young male past puberty stage, then a possible complication called ochitis that results in sterility will be experienced (Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) par. 4). Rubella, on the other hand, also known as German measles is very risky especially if the pregnant woman suffers from this disease (Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) par. 6). The worst complication of rubella is that it can cause the congenital defects in the developing baby.
History of MMR Vaccine
MMR vaccine was first developed in the United Kingdom in the year 1988 (MMR: the History 1). The triple vaccine came up the following year after Britain had suffered severe infant mortality rate caused by measles. The success of the vaccine was seen thereafter when measles and mumps cases were greatly reduced in Europe. In the year 1998, Dr. Wakefield came up with suggestions claiming that the triple vaccine was associated with the development of autism in children. Wakefield’s research featured only 12 children; 8 of which died after receiving MMR vaccine (MMR: the History par. 4). In the year 2008, it was proved that MMR had no link with autism. The research conducted by Dr. David Brown put off Wakefield claims as his study revealed that there was no connection between MMR and autism (MMR: the History par. 23).
Benefits of MMR Vaccine
MMR vaccine is known worldwide for its success in eradication of measles among the infant. Measles has been drastically reduced to less than 1% cases reported since MMR was established. Notable to mention is that the introduction of this triple vaccine helped in reduction and prevention of variety of infant illness, disability, and even death. Moreover, the mortality rate of childhood diseases like diphtheria, whooping cough and measles has been successfully reduced globally. In 1900, medical report on the issue revealed that infant mortality rate caused by measles, diphtheria and whooping cough was estimated to be 13.3, 40.3 and 12.2 respectively for every 100,000 children (Bearman par. 9).
Nevertheless, the success of this triple vaccine came up towards the end of the Second World War, which saw the mortality rate of the three diseases reduced to 1 per every 100,000 children (Bearman par. 9). Furthermore, cases of many other diseases that had no vaccines were also reported to have declined tremendously. Now, parents do not fear of the diseases which used to kill the children at an early age in the past.
Drawbacks of Autism, Causes and Effects
For a successful vaccination to be achieved, both parents and the concerned medical staff are to fully participate in the process. Failure may arise when either the parent or doctor fails to perform the duties. The controversy on whether MMR vaccine is safe or not greatly affected the immunization process a decade ago. This was triggered by two theories developed, which linked MMR to autism. It was highlighted that MMR vaccine was dangerous to young infants since the measles attenuated virus lodges in the gut of some children resulting in incurable inflammation and leaky digestive tract. It also caused gradual delays in growth and development of the child (Bearman par. 6). The second theory stated that the preservative used when developing MMR vaccine Thimeresol contained mercury. This mercury happens to cause developmental delays in young children (Bearman par. 6).
However, despite the success of MMR in eradication of most childhood diseases, claims about autism were first announced by Dr. Wakefield in the United Kingdom in 1970 (Bearman par. 6). These claims stated that MMR was linked with other neurological complications in young children. Due to fear, many parents withdrew from the vaccine agreeing that it was not safe. The debate on this issue lasted for two decades with researchers coming up with various theories trying to explain the mistrust in MMR vaccines. Health officials also experienced great withdrawal from the legal process by parents who feared subjecting their children to neurological complication (autism).
The situation continued to worsen after this claims were posted on the internet and official websites. Any parent who tried to consult medical official sites of Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) saw the same claims (Bearman). Furthermore, the institutes also posted pictures of children who suffered from autism as a result of the MMR vaccination. Dr. Wakefield claimed that it was better for parents to accept single dose immunization against measles, mumps and rubella instead of the combined triple shot (Bearman, 2011).
The impact of MMR rejection started showing up with health officers being frequently haunted by cases of childhood diseases. Suffering and even deaths cases among children were reported frequently since the rejection of the MMR vaccines. It had happened until November 2003, when one of Wakefield’s collaborators on the Lancet report, Simon Murch, came out and publicly denounced the claims linking MMR to autism. He openly confessed that there was no true evidence available proving the connection between autism and MMR vaccines. Later, Dr. Wakefield was charged for misleading the Lancet editor and the entire world (Colgrove and Ronald 739). Eventually, public announcement was made encouraging parents to accept MMR vaccine since it was safe.
In conclusion, it is clear that MMR vaccine is the best protection for young children against MMR. Research conducted by Dr. Yasou Shimizu on more that 30,000 children born in Japan revealed that after the rejection of MMR vaccine, cases of autism continued to rise especially in Yokohama. This clearly indicated that MMR was not the causative agent for infant autism as it was claimed by Wakefield (Coghlan and Bayer 16).
Coghlan, Andy and Ronald Bayer. “Ending MHR shots does not halt rise in autism. (This week: International news and exclusives)(measles, mumps and rubella vaccine).” New Scientists. 2005: 16. Print.
Colgrove, James and Ronald Bayer. “Could it happen here? Vaccine Risk Controversies and the Specter of Derailment.” Health Affairs 24.3(2005): 729-739. Print.
“MMR Vaccines.” Wikipedia. 2012. Web.
MMR: The History. 2012. Web.
Vaccine Information Statement. 2010. Web.