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Reasons for measles cases not being vaccinated with MMR: investigation into parents' and carers' views following a large measles outbreak

  • P. McHALE (a1), A. KEENAN (a2) and S. GHEBREHEWET (a2)

Uptake rates for the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine have been below the required 95% in the UK since a retracted and discredited article linking the MMR vaccine with autism and inflammatory bowel disease was released in 1998. This study undertook semi-structured telephone interviews among parents or carers of 47 unvaccinated measles cases who were aged between 13 months and 9 years, during a large measles outbreak in Merseyside. Results showed that concerns over the specific links with autism remain an important cause of refusal to vaccinate, with over half of respondents stating this as a reason. A quarter stated child illness during scheduled vaccination time, while other reasons included general safety concerns and access issues. Over half of respondents felt that more information or a discussion with a health professional would help the decision-making process, while a third stated improved access. There was clear support for vaccination among respondents when asked about current opinions regarding MMR vaccine. The findings support the hypothesis that safety concerns remain a major barrier to MMR vaccination, and also support previous evidence that experience of measles is an important determinant in the decision to vaccinate.

Corresponding author
* Author for correspondence: Dr P. McHale, Sefton Council, 6th Floor, Merton House, Stanley Road, Bootle L20 3DL, UK. (Email:
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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
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