On the Agenda - Depleting stocks of MMR vaccine

MMR vaccine: running out
MMR vaccine: running out

In a nutshell

The MMR jab once again hit the headlines when it was announced that the single injection vaccine for mumps, an alternative for those who do not want to use the triple MMR jab, was running out.

What is the problem?

American pharma giant Merck, the world's only manufacturer of the single vaccine Mumpsvax, has halted production. Clinics say stocks are running low and they will not receive new supplies for up to 12 months. Parents who do not want to use the triple MMR jab have being using Mumpsvax to vaccinate their children.

Why is it such a big deal?

Parents started to boycott the triple vaccine in the late 1990s following a (later disproven) link between MMR and autism, which was first raised in a study by Dr Andrew Wakefield in 1998. MMR hit the media earlier this month when headlines suggested a recent measles outbreak was due to parents shunning the MMR vaccine. The General Medical Council is expected to resume its case against Wakefield over allegations he took blood from a child at a birthday party to use for research purposes.

Media coverage

The Daily Mail covered the story on 9 July and said suppliers had confirmed that the shortage of Mumpsvax was worrying some parents who still, despite widespread coverage discrediting Wakefield, do not trust MMR.

500m doses of MMR have been used in more than 90 countries around the world since the 1970s.

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