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Independents' Day

GPs urge the Government to make measles vaccination compulsory

Senior GPs have recommended that children should not be allowed to start school unless they have had the MMR vaccination. 

They have urged the Government to have four and five-year-old pupils’ vaccination statuses checked before they start their education. 

In a letter seen by Pulse, London CCG chairs Sir Sam Everington, Dr Mohini Parmar, Dr Andrew Parson and Dr Josephine Sauvage told health secretary Matt Hancock and education secretary Gavin Williamson how the serious public health risk of people not being vaccinated against measles is now being realised, but will continue to grow as a 'major health issue’ if not reversed. 

Sir Sam Everington, chair of all 32 of the capital’s CCGs, told Pulse: ‘There are a number of reasons for sending this letter. The Prime Minister recently highlighted the urgent action required within the health service to address the rise in measles, but GPs need help in implementing this.

‘We are doing all we can but are already overstretched, so the community must play a role in the efforts.

‘I’ve seen patients dying of measles, but people can forget about its risks. We’ve become comfortable in the UK, but with increased travel in a globalised world, we face the same risks as other countries.

‘Worldwide, there’s a one in 75 chance of dying of measles - while it's eradicable, it’s much harder to treat. The eradication level for diseases is classed as 95%, so this should be a crucial part of public health policy. We need something extra to counteract the fake claims that sometimes circulate on social media.'

He added that the Department of Education should have its own chief medical officer. 

The letter referenced how smallpox was eliminated through vaccination becoming mandatory for children born after 1853, and acknowledged that the proposal could allow for ‘exemptions for either conscientious objection or medical contraindication’. Children with leukaemia, for example, are additionally vulnerable as they cannot be vaccinated but could have their lives put at risk from exposure to the virus.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, was ‘disheartened’ to see a rise in ‘serious but entirely preventable diseases like measles and mumps when efforts to eradicate them had been going so well’.

She added: ‘We know that the majority of destructive anti-vax messages are circulating online, and this is where we need to focus our efforts to cut through the confusion.  

‘As GPs we have an important relationship with our patients, built on trust and understanding, and in order to keep that we need to help people make their own decisions. Positive, informed and educated choice is always going to be more desirable long-term, and we are concerned that rushing down the route of enforcing methods of healthcare could have unintended consequences.’

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care shared their commitment to ‘driving up uptake rates further’ and that their new strategy will ‘draw together concerted efforts across the health system’.

In 2017, the World Health Organization declared that the UK had eliminated measles, but recently rescinded this status on the basis of the amount of cases reported during just the following year. 

Last week, Public Health England also urged eligible patients to get vaccinated against measles and mumps, after the second quarter of this year saw the highest amount of mumps cases in a decade.


Readers' comments (4)

  • So people can just say they are conscientiously objecting.....
    What does that even mean in reference to a vaccine?
    Lets just let kids die instead

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  • Difficult to see how this could be enforced.

    But good to see Dr Everington revealing his dictator tendencies publicly for all to see.

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  • You could ask Australia they are doing it. And we're not enforcing the jab, just saying you cant force us to allow your kids in to school if you're intent on spreading deadly diseases.

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  • Australia links full immunisation for their children to family tax benefit and child care assistance.
    The benefits are checked against the Medicare records. "No jab no pay"

    Most Australian schools will refuse reception entry to children who are not immunized on the basis that those not immunized will put other children and families at risk.

    The editor is right to start this discussion between civic rights, children's health and parental responsibilities now.
    What will we do when we, hopefully, have a vaccine but a large proportion of the population won't use it and will not have their kids have it?
    Given the way corona virus mutates and measles on the rise should we simply say that this willful neglect by anti-vaxxers is still okay?
    I honestly think we will look back at this child abuse - neglect - by Government (us the people) of our children with shame that we have not done more.
    Now is the time for us to follow Australia's lead that gives them fantastic vaccination rates.

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