A campaign by the South Wales Evening Post or the Beans on Toast in the late 1990s has been cited as one possible cause for a measles outbreak in Wales.
The BBC’s Today programme's Hywel Griffith reported on the outbreak
"Health service officials claim that one of the main reasons Swansea is at the centre of the epidemic is because the local Evening Post ran a campaign raising concerns about the MMR vaccine in the late 90s."
A report in the Journal of Epedemiology and Health from 2000 linked the paper's "MMR Parent's fight for facts" campaign, started in the late 1990s, with a drop in MMR vaccinations in the paper's circulation area.
Widespread concerns about MMR were aired across the media after Dr Andrew Wakefield published a now-discredited study in the Lancet 1998 linking MMR to autism.
Well over 2,000 people have been vaccinated at clinics set up to tackle the Swansea measles epidemic as fears were raised it could spread.
Queues of people turned up early at many of the special drop-in sessions for free MMR jabs.
The number of cases in the outbreak has risen to 693 but Dr Meirion Evans of Public Health Wales (PHW) said that numbers could "easily double".
He said 40,000 children in Wales remain unvaccinated.
It is all to easy to turn on the "Beans and Toast" but although Wakefield was discredited
His orginal accusations , were published a controversial paper in the respected British medical journal The Lancet, supported by a press conference February 1998 at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
This paper reported on twelve children with developmental disorders referred to the Royal Free Hospital. The parents or physicians of eight of these children were said to have linked the start of behavioral symptoms to MMR vaccination. The paper described a collection of bowel symptoms, endoscopy findings and biopsy findings that were said to be evidence of a possible novel syndrome that Wakefield would later call autistic enterocolitis, and recommended further study into the possible link between the condition and the MMR vaccine. The paper suggested that the connection between autism and the gastrointestinal pathologies was real, but said it did not prove an association between the MMR vaccine and autism..
Although we now know this to be untrue it is understandable that the Public and indeed the Media would be concerned and that this should continue with the the public to the present day.
Perhaps parents who were concerned and could not be reassured should have been offered single vaccination those this may have increased concern . Though I suspect cost may have been the major factor here.
Hopefully there may be a good thing to come out of this in that parents will now be more confident in seeing their children receive the MMR jab.
But maybe rather than attributing blame even to the Beans on Toast we should look to the future and concentrate in making sure that parents realise the MMR is safe and effective.