MORE than a decade ago, British parents refused to give measles shots to at least a million children because of a vaccine scare that raised the specter of autism. Now, health officials are scrambling to catch up and stop a growing epidemic of the contagious disease.
This year, the UK has had more than 1200 cases of measles, after a record number of nearly 2000 cases last year. The country once recorded only several dozen cases every year. It now ranks second in Europe, behind only Romania.
Last month, emergency vaccination clinics were held every weekend in Wales, the epicentre of the outbreak. Immunisation drives have also started elsewhere in the country, with officials aiming to reach 1 million children aged 10 to 16.
“This is the legacy of the Wakefield scare,” said Dr. David Elliman, spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, referring to a paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues. […]