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MMR - the public relations strategy

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Martin Rosenbaum | 10:16 UK time, Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The proposals, reported today, to make MMR jabs compulsory show how worried some public health professionals are about the number of young children who are not being given the injections.

As the BBC has reported, documents we received under freedom of information revealed how the London Strategic Health Authority was so concerned that it raised the possibility of compulsory vaccination with the Department of Health.

The sensitivity of this issue is demonstrated by another document we have obtained through FOI.

This is a brief from the Department of Health and Central Office of information for a public relations contract worth between £300,000 and £400,000 to promote the MMR vaccine.

The brief states: "A high profile advertising campaign would not be the right way forward at this stage. It may run the risk of bringing the controversy and debate back into the headlines - igniting a media debate and giving further voice to those opposed to MMR. From research and past experience we know that one of the best strategies for reassuring parents is to keep MMR out of the headlines."

The document illustrates well the difficulties faced by the Department of Health in its campaign to maximise the take-up of the vaccine.


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