3. What discussions he has had with Ministers in the Welsh Government on the measles outbreak in south Wales. (153885)
My noble Friend Baroness Randerson, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, will be meeting the Welsh Government Minister for Health to discuss the matter further, and we remain in very close contact with Welsh Government officials. While this is a devolved matter, I share the concerns of the local community and I encourage those not yet vaccinated to do so.
Will the Minister join me in praising the response of NHS Wales to the measles outbreak? In addition, will he urge those who have not taken up the MMR vaccine to do so immediately, particularly given the reports from Public Health Wales this week about outbreaks further east in Wales? Will he urge them to do that, so we can stop the spread of this dangerous disease?
The hon. Gentleman is exactly right. It was very worrying to see the figures announced yesterday that more than 4,000 children in the Swansea area still have not been vaccinated. In Gwent, more than 10,000 children have not yet been vaccinated, and we have particular concerns about a measles outbreak in Gwent. It is absolutely right that Welsh Government public health officials are doing everything they can by making clinics available at the weekend and so on. The onus is now on parents to go out and get their children vaccinated.
Does the Minister agree that it is essential roundly to condemn the totally incorrect research done by Andrew Wakefield many years ago linking MMR with autism? It simply was not true, and now is the time to say he got it wrong and that everyone must have the MMR injection.
My hon. Friend is also right. Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research has been discredited not just in this country, but by medical and scientific opinion throughout the world. There is no reason for parents to feel alarmed about the MMR vaccine, and there is plenty of dispassionate advice for them if they have concerns or questions. They should crack on now and get their children vaccinated.
Will the Minister commend the work of local authorities such as Bridgend working hand in hand with the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg university health board and running drop-in clinics in every school in the constituency? Does he agree with me, a father of three teenage boys, that the very best protection against this disease is for everyone not to be afraid and to turn up to these clinics and get all their children vaccinated against this terrible disease?
The hon. Gentleman is exactly right as well. The response from public officials in Wales at all levels—Welsh Government, local authorities and within Public Health Wales—has been exemplary. They have done everything right so far, but we need to get the message out to the communities affected that parents with children not yet vaccinated urgently need to get them vaccinated.