LEWISHAM: Health authorities worried over low innoculation figures

A CLINIC in Eltham offering the single measles, mumps and rubella jabs has had to take on nine staff to cope with demand.

Concerned parents queued for hours for the vaccinations at the Direct Health 2000 Clinic, in the wake of the controversy surrounding the triple MMR jab.

Staff said in the last two weeks their appointments have quadrupled to 400-a-week and in two days they received 3,000 emails.

A spokesman for the clinic, which is the only walk-in clinic in the country to offer the single jabs, said: "There has been a real frenzy for jabs because of the publicity surrounding MMR.

"We will seriously consider taking on even more staff if the number of appointments continue to go up."

Meanwhile, the Government continues to insist the MMR jab is safe and this is echoed by local health authorities.

They have warned parents there could be a meningitis outbreak if they do not have their children vaccinated.

Just 62 per cent of children in Lewisham are immunised with the MMR vaccine and Greenwich is even worse at 60.4 per cent well below the Government target of 95 per cent.

The single jab has been linked to cases of autism in children but this is yet to be proven in contrast to medical evidence which shows measles, mumps and rubella can lead to serious health problems.

Mumps is the most common cause of viral meningitis in unvaccinated children, measles can cause fits and brain damage and, although rubella poses less of a threat, it can endanger pregnancies.

Jennifer Maher, 32, of Murillo Road, Lewisham, decided against the MMR jab and opted for the single jabs for her son Harry, 4, and daughter, Olivia. aged 2.

She said: "It is worrying that, because of all the bad publicity parents are not getting their children vaccinated at all.

"This is the case in my son's reception class and it could lead to an outbreak of measles or mumps."

A Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority spokesman urged parents to think carefully before shunning MMR in favour of single vaccinations.

She said: "There is no evidence against the MMR vaccine.

"Separate single vaccines for the three infections are not satisfactory, they are not yet fully-licensed, and the effects of the individual vaccines can make youngsters even more vulnerable to infection."

If you want to know more about the MMR jab, log onto the web at www.immunisation.org.uk or consult your GP.