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Three in four GPs believe child vaccination should be compulsory

Three quarters of GPs believe it should become compulsory for children to be vaccinated against preventable diseases before they begin school, new research has found.

A survey of 1,084 UK GPs revealed 78% thought compulsory vaccination of children would increase uptake, and 75% said they believed the measure should be introduced.

However 18% said they did not believe children should be forced into vaccination, and 7% said they ‘don’t know’.

The survey also found the majority of GPs (71%) believed anti-vaccination messaging on social media was the biggest cause of poor vaccination uptake.

The new research is part of a wide-ranging survey of more than 3,500 GPs and other primary care staff, carried out in November and December 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

The State of Primary Care report – the seventh yearly analysis of primary care – was released today by Cogora, the company that publishes Pulse and sister titles including Healthcare LeaderManagement in PracticeThe Pharmacist and Nursing in Practice.

The results also showed widespread support among other healthcare professionals for compulsory vaccination of children.

Among the 749 nurses taking part in the survey, 73% said they would support compulsory vaccination, while 75% of the 130 pharmacists responding said they also agreed.

The study report noted: ‘Asked whether they thought the vaccination of children against preventable diseases should be compulsory before they started school, the majority of respondents in all surveyed groups were in favour.’

Cogora surveyed readers of Pulse and sister publications on a range of topics such as low morale, primary care networks, cutbacks, and Brexit’s impact on the NHS.

In 2019, the UK lost its status as a measles-free country when it saw a sharp increase in cases, just two years after the virus was eliminated. The country is second worst in Europe for administering the vaccine.

Further to this, NHS England missed its immunisation targets for all but one of the pre-school vaccines in 2018/19, and NHS Digital revealed that coverage rates in England had fallen for all 13 childhood vaccinations.

In September 2019, senior GPs urged the Government to make MMR vaccinations mandatory for children before they start school.