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For the record

Are single vaccines safer than the MMR jab?  Image

Are single vaccines safer than the MMR jab?

On 21st April 2013 a Sunday Express article on the recent MMR outbreak in Wales included the claim by Dr Richard Halvorsen that, “there is evidence single jabs are safer than MMR. In every other form of medicine patients are ­offered a choice. It is the lack of this choice which has contributed to the current epidemic of measles.” Dr Halvorsen is medical director of BabyJabs, a private London clinic offering single vaccines.

Professor Adam Finn, Institute of Child Life & Health, University of Bristol, disagrees:

“Combined MMR has been comprehensively tested and shown to be effective and safe. There is also enormous experience of real life use to underscore research data. Single antigen vaccines are often of unknown efficacy (i.e. may not work as well and may not even work at all).

Single antigen vaccines:

1. Cause children to have unnecessary additional painful injections.

2. Delay protection and thus increase risk of disease.

3. Cause additional visits to the doctors and thus unnecessary costs to parents and the healthcare provider.

4. Result in additional missed visits and thus delayed protection and waste of human and health service resources. 

5. Appear to have enhanced risk of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction)1. Far from being safer, they may actually be significantly more dangerous. 

6. May be being provided by private clinics whose credentials for correct vaccine handling and provision are not subject to standard health service training and checks;the vaccines they obtain may not have gone through the same import checks; and they usually do not notify the local authorities when vaccines are given so central records are not available for future reference. 

People are not given the choice, anywhere in the NHS, to receive medicines that are either more expensive, less safe or less effective than alternatives that are better in all these ways. Nor should they be. The taxpayer – i.e. all of us - deserves the best, most effective deal going – in this case MMR." 



1. Erlewyn-Lajeunesse M, Manek R, Liungham R, Finn A, Emond A (2008). Anaphylaxis following single component measles and rubella immunization. Archives of Disease in Childhood 93:974-975. doi:10.1136/adc.2008.138289

Document type: For The Record

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