The alarm bells have been sounded because 449 cases have been reported in the year to last May, compared with 77 in the previous year.
The blame is laid squarely at the door of Dr Andrew Wakefield, whose study that suggested a possible link between the vaccine and autism scared off many thousands of parents.
Sadly, says the British Medical Journal, the medical establishment can't even hang out Wakefield's body as a warning to others who may dare suggest something's not safe in medicine.
The General Medical Council's misconduct charge against him is doomed. The first charge, that he conducted flawed research, would bring down the whole medical house. As the BMJ itself admits, most medical studies are flawed anyway. And if, despite that, the GMC still finds him guilty, the anti-vaccine groups will make him a martyr.
In fact, the anti-vaccine groups have won the propaganda war. The UK's health authorities were slow to appreciate the level of concern among parents, and were even slower to mount a credible defence.
Are we heading for compulsory vaccination anytime soon in the UK? If they can take away our civil liberties without so much as a murmur, you betcha.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2006; 333: Editorial and 890-5).
E-news broadcast 2 November 2006 No.306 [Subscribe]