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8 Internet researches into vaccination issues

Conclude your study by undertaking some broad Internet searches on key topics raised in this course. First, bring yourself up to date with the current status of the MMR debate. Spend about one hour on this exercise.

Activity 30

You will certainly find a number of sites with highly polarised opinions in the MMR debate. You should aim to evaluate the reliability of the sites you visit. What evidence do they present? Do they reference their evidence? How much use is made of quotations from individuals? What links do the websites provide? Are links to other sites selective to one side of the debate, or do they address the other side too? Here are some of the other questions that you might consider:

  • Has a fall in the uptake of MMR in any country been associated with an increase in the incidence of measles, or mumps, or rubella? Is it possible to quantify the effect?

  • What evidence has emerged either to support or contradict concerns about a link between MMR and autism or other adverse outcomes?

  • What are the effects of measles in unvaccinated children in developing countries?

  • Have concerns been expressed about possible adverse outcomes of any other vaccine, and (if so) on what evidence has this been based?

Activity 31

Now investigate the details of at least one other vaccination programme (in addition to the polio eradication campaign, which you should already have researched as part of the Polio Case Study). Spend about one hour on this exercise.

  • Identify the type of vaccine used, the method of delivery and any issues that have emerged during the organisation of the programme.

  • What has been the effect over time on the incidence or severity of the disease? How has this varied in different locations?

  • What are the prospects for eradicating the infectious agent globally through mass vaccination programmes? What factors are delaying or threatening progress?

We have provided some links below to websites dedicated to vaccination data and progress reports in the UK, USA and internationally, but there are many others.


  • World Health Organisation fact sheet on tuberculosis.

  • This site provides a link to the work of STOP TB department and includes the WHO Report 2005 “Global Tuberculosis Control” (full report and summary; links to previous annual Global TB Control reports).

  • The portal to factsheets and epidemiological data on TB in England and Wales collated by the Health Protection Agency.

  • The portal to factsheets and epidemiological data on TB collated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), located in the USA but also collates international data.


  • The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases fact sheet on syphilis.

  • Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Elimination of syphilis.

  • Health Protection Agency. STIs and HIV reports and publications.

  • Republic of South Africa Department of Health survey report on HIV and syphilis.

  • GeneQuiz links to information about the T. Pallidum genome. Information on the genomes from other bacteria can be accessed from their home page.


  • This has some FAQ on cholera and info on the cholera Global task Force.

  • FAQ on cholera from the CDC.

  • The life and times of Dr John Snow.

  • A case study of the 1991 peru outbreak.

HIV and AIDs

  • A tutorial on HIV/AIDS.

  • Statistics on numbers affected and affected groups.

  • A comprehensive site on all aspects of HIV.

  • CDC national prevention network.

  • A site on treatment. This page has a lot on vaccines.


  • The WHO maintains a regularly updated website on the history and progress of the eradication campaign, and the current global status of polio, and links to specific country data and a "Polio News" bulletin.

  • The UNICEF website on polio focuses on the effects on children.

  • Information on the biology of picornaviruses, with detailed discussion of polio virus structure, functions and genome.

  • Polio is the subject of a themed issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation (2000), which contains articles on what makes polio a 'suitable target' for eradication, details of the Angola outbreak of 1999 (the largest ever in Africa), the eradication campaign in specific countries and a consideration of what happens after vaccination stops.