Freedom of Information Team
Department of Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street
Mr Angus Files request-536265-
21 December 2018
Dear Mr Files
Freedom of Information Request Reference FOI 1158791
Thank you for your request dated 30 November 2018 in which you asked the Department of Health
and Social Care (DHSC):
Subject: Freedom of Information request - John Stone Letter MMR safety.
Please make available the text of the letter of Dame Sally Davies to John Stone quoted in Mr
Stone’s article I seen on Age Of Autism as link below.
Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
DHSC holds this information, and the text of this letter is provided below:
[starts] Vaccine safety is extremely important and taken seriously, and the safety of MMR vaccines
has remained under continual review. As with any vaccine, MMR vaccines can have side ef-
fects in some people, and these are listed in the product literature. The potential for side ef-
fects has to be balanced against the benefits of protection against what can be very serious
and potentially life-threatening infections. When safety issues have been confirmed in the past
these have been acted upon. Your e-mail refers to the action taken with Urabe mumps-
containing vaccines, and another example includes the identification and precautions around
the risk of immune thrombocytopenic purpura with MMR vaccines. Should emerging evidence
confirm any new risks, I can assure you that appropriate action would be taken.
Specifically in relation to whether MMR vaccines may be a cause of autism, a substantial body
of population-based research has found no evidence to suggest a causal association. This ev-
idence (not just for MMR, but other types of vaccine) is available for review in the published
medical literature, and was summarised in a meta-analysis in 2014 which is free to download
In relation to vaccine safety monitoring more generally, I can assure you that systems are in
place to keep safety under review. This includes continual review of suspected adverse reac-
tion reports (such as those submitted through the Yellow Card Scheme), evaluation of GP and
hospital-based health records linked to immunisations, review of worldwide data and close col-
laboration with international health authorities.
We know that confidence in the UK vaccine programme is at very high levels and the vast ma-
jority of parents choose to have their children protected by vaccination. Vaccines are one of
the best public health interventions we have - saving lives and preventing millions of people
from getting life-threatening diseases.
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