Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine – benefits and risks revisited

Mersiha Mahmić-Kaknjo, Elma Rustempašić, Elida Hadžić

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to provide a concise, evidence-based mini review of the benefits and risks of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Measles, mumps and rubella are highly contagious diseases that can cause serious illness, disability and death. Wakefield’s fraudulent research, published in 1999, was retracted shortly after being published, but continues to fuel public distrust towards vaccination. A Cochrane systematic review, published in 2012, denied any causal relationship between MMR and autism, asthma, leukaemia, hay fever, Type 1 diabetes, gait disturbance, Crohn’s disease, demyelinating diseases, bacterial or viral infections. The serious side effects of MMR are extremely rare (less than 1 in million doses) and it is hard to distinguish if they are caused by the vaccination. The refusal of some parents to have their children vaccinated has resulted in major outbreaks of once forgotten diseases, such as whooping cough and measles. An unvaccinated child poses a threat not only to his/her own health but also to public health. There is an abundant body of strong evidence that the risks from side effects are negligible compared to the benefits of being vaccinated. Falsified research, although widely debunked, has resulted in unsubstantiated claims; and the global anti-vaccination paranoia has done much harm worldwide.

Conclusion – It is essential to restore confidence by explaining and disseminating scientific evidence on both the benefits and risks of the MMR vaccine, primarily to physicians who distribute vaccines, as well as to the parents of children who are to be immunized.

Keywords

Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine; Autistic disorder; Immunization

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