Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Impact of adverse publicity on MMR vaccine uptake: a population based analysis of vaccine uptake records for one million children, born 1987–2004
  1. V Friederichs1,
  2. J C Cameron1,
  3. C Robertson1
  1. 1Health Protection Scotland, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  2. 2Department of Statistics and Modelling Science, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr J C Cameron
    Health Protection Scotland, Clifton House, Clifton Place, Glasgow G3 7LN, UK; claire.cameron{at}


Aims: To determine the impact of adverse publicity on MMR uptake and measles susceptibility, including whether vaccination is delayed and the role of deprivation.

Methods: A population database for all Scotland containing immunisation records for over one million children (n = 1 079 327) born 1987–2004 was analysed. MMR uptake was determined by birth cohort and deprivation category. “Final” uptake (at approx age 6 years) was predicted by linear regression by birth cohort. Measles susceptibility in 1998 and 2003 was determined by postcode sector and district for cohorts combined to construct nursery and primary school age groups.

Results: There is evidence of a slight rise in late uptake, but insufficient to compensate for underlying declines. Late vaccination continues to be associated with deprivation, while the most affluent tend to be vaccinated promptly, or not at all. Predicted figures for “final” MMR1 uptake are over 90%, but under 95%. Measles susceptibility has increased significantly in nursery children, with an eightfold rise in the number of districts with greater than 20% susceptibility in this group (from 3 to 25).

Conclusions: Increased measles susceptibility in nursery children is concerning, particularly in the most vulnerable areas. These figures are likely to increase in the future, as MMR uptake has not yet returned to the previous higher level. Increased susceptibility levels can also be expected in primary schools in the future, as levels of late uptake are insufficient to compensate. Predicted figures for “final” MMR1 uptake are under the herd immunity threshold and campaigns may be required to increase uptake among future primary school children.

  • measles-mumps-rubella vaccine
  • measles
  • vaccine uptake
  • immunisation programmes
  • deprivation

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: Health Protection Scotland has received funding for research and conference attendance from pharmaceutical companies