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Last week Peterborough Evening Telegraph reporter Lisa Moore wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister asking him to answer the questions of millions of parents who fear the MMR jab may harm their children.
Tony Blair’s response was to write a letter exclusively for the Evening Telegraph to explain his Government’s stance on the controversial vaccine.
Thanks for your open letter to me in last week’s Evening Telegraph about the MMR triple jab.
I couldn’t agree more that bringing up children is a very difficult job and that the health of our children is what most worries all parents.
No matter who we are or what we do, we all want good health for our children and share a determination to do everything we can to protect them against illness and injury.
So I’m certainly not going to brush off people’s concern about the MMR jab.
What we have to do, as you say, is to work hard to end the scare-mongering and focus instead on the hard scientific evidence both of the risks from measles, mumps and rubella, and on the effectiveness and safety of the MMR inoculation.
And it is for these reasons that I am convinced the MMR triple vaccine is the best way of protecting our children against diseases which, not so long ago, ruined many lives and caused 100 deaths a year in this country – and remain a major killer in many parts of the world.
I don’t consider myself old, but I’m old enough to remember the fear and misery that, in particular, measles and rubella sparked.
As many people can remember, these are not mild diseases from which everyone quickly recovers. They can and do cause serious illness, lasting damage and death.
Measles alone still kills around a million children every year across the world.
And it will kill again in this country if we give it the chance.
But, because of the success of the MMR vaccination programme in Britain, no child has died from acute measles for over a decade.
Cases of all three diseases are at an all-time low.
So it has proved effective. I also believe it is safe.
I understand why I am being asked about Leo, but I’m simply not going to give a running commentary on my children’s health or treatment.
And, while I know that while many people sincerely say this is wholly different, I can promise that if I talked about Leo in relation to this, the media would soon move on to trying to find out something else about my children.
But in response to the plea in your open letter, let me make this absolutely clear.
I would never ask any parent to do something for their child which I did not believe to be safe and right for my own children.