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MMR vaccine "should be compulsory"

A public health expert has said the MMR vaccine should be compulsory and children ought not be allowed to start school until they have been vaccinated.

Sir Sandy Macara, former chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), believes parents must prove that their children have had the MMR vaccine before they attend school.

A motion to that effect will now be discussed at the BMA's annual conference later this month.

Uptake of MMR jab, which guards against measles, mumps and rubella, fell sharply after now discredited research suggested that it was linked to autism.

But now one in four children under five has not had either of the required injections and the drop in take-up has been blamed for measles outbreaks across the country.

Children should receive their first jab at 13 months, followed by the second at around three years and four months old.

Sir Sandy said: "We ought to consider making a link which in effect would make it compulsory for children to be immunised if they are to receive the benefit of a free education from the state."

Reports show that the London Strategic Health Authority asked the government about the "feasibility of requiring an immunisation certificate for measles before children go to school".

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Medical Association

Is it feasible to force parents to have their child vaccinated against MMR? Have your say at the Nursing in Practice Forum now!

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"No absolutely not ... for many reasons. It is the parents right to choose to use vaccines or not it is a parents right to choose which vaccines if a parent chooses to vaccinate when vaccination is not a cure all and only works for the particular strain of an illness the stupid number of vaccines a child is given in a short period of  time is enough to weaken the system of a horse let alone a child. Vaccines do not work for
everybody & in quite a few cases can kill. There are other disciplines of medicine which one can use instead of what is being commonly used & forced upon people to say that an unvaccinated child is the cause of illness & a health hazard to the vaccinated child is nothing but poppycock. Most people who do vaccinate seem to do so out of fear. They do not appear to really educate themselves properly - they think that a chat with the doctor or nurse is going to give them a balanced view? Dream on - the medical profession & drug companies are in the business of selling drugs; therefore, of course they promote their chosen drugs! Another factor of vaccines is the carrier - this is the fluid etc that is with the vaccine so that it can be administered, often this is
a major health risk for many children (and adults) and can kill. Most people do not even think of this. To force mandatory vaccination is one of the most profoundly ignorant
thought & action of all times! Definitely definitely NOT" - Derry Jackson, Ireland

"I have two children aged 3 and 2 my oldest had the vaccine and he did change from that day, he has now been diagnosed in the autism spectrum, how could anyone make me take my younger son for the MMR? I would rather go to prison than let anyone inject this in his veins!!" - Mick, Hull

"I think they should not make the vaccine compulsory as it has been known that people have bad side-effects from the vaccine, some lasting six weeks. We should be allowed to choose whether we want our children to have the vaccine or have it separately or not at all, without being judged" - Claire Lampster, Aylesbury

"A mum's (sometimes dad's) belief that the MMR vaccine causes a form of autism in their own child is not a statistic that is being collected. If you view any discussion forum on the matter the numbers of mums claiming an immediate withdrawal of their child's personality following the MMR
vaccine is frightening - but ignored.
Correct - the drug companies (who sell the vaccine) cannot find a link between the vaccine and autism BUT they're making money - mums on the other hand have their child's interest at heart. ECHR - right to an education - give me my tax back and I'll choose what's best for my children, not drug companies and teachers. Private education and private healthcare is becoming a certainty. Although - be warned you cannot force any vaccination unless you're Hitler!" - Graham Ord, Belfast

"I think the government should allow the option of separate injections to parents who are not comfortable with triple vac MMR ... as much as we would like to deny the facts in the link between MMR and autism, the truth is its there ...! Let's wake up. I'm sure given the option no parent wouldn't want to vaccinate their children" - Renee, Birmingham

"Yes, it should be made compulsory for all children to have this vaccine before school, and I cannot understand why some parents do not want their children to have it, when it is in the child's best interests to protect them and others against potentially fatal diseases. I believe in democracy and personal choice, but it should not be up to the parent whether the child is vaccinated or not, it should be the choice of the medical profession who are ethically aware that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks, and these risks are unproven!!!" - Linda McManus, Cwmbran

"Parents who opt not to have the MMR vaccine for their children are simply selfish. By doing so, they are also denying  their children the safety of their health and other children's health. Their childen might be spared the diseases at the expense of others who have the vaccinations. They should know the facts rather than listening to the tabloid newspapers." - Y Lyn, Hemel Hempstead

"I totally disagree with this statement, both my children (now aged 15/12) have not been given the MMR on the grounds that we disagreed with the triple vaccine as we were not convinced of the safety of giving it to our children, the safety of our children was and still is an important point as a parent. We offered to pay for single vaccines but our GP practice never agreed to it. I thought I lived in a democracy where freedom of speech and the right to give your opinions was allowed. This also allows for parental choice over what is right for your individual child. Now your Sir Macara is trying to remove this right by force and scaremongering." - David Whitcombe, South Wales

"Immunisation should be compulsory for all children attending schools and nurseries. Parents who disagree should think about educating their children at home.  Why should other children be put at risk?" - Gale McCallum, Glasgow

"I think they SHOULD be vaccinated, but that it is wrong to make entry to school dependent on it. What would become of the children whose parents absolutely refuse? It can't be fair to deny them education. In fact, the very same group of parents who we are always following up for children's truancy are likely to be the ones who don't want (or don't care about) vaccination. We just have to keep going with the health education, and work for a rise in uptake of the MMR." - Laura, Leeds

"I feel that if parents want to risk their own children's health, that's one thing- but what about the other children in the schools? Vaccination is also a requirement in some parts of Australia. Stopping at red traffic lights and speed limits are not infringements on personal choice, but a shared responsibility for everyone's safety." - Val Relton, Brighton

"The fear parents have about childhood infectious diseases is endemic. Fear itself is infectious and the makers of vaccinations feed this fear on a regular basis. Enlightened parents should always have choice when it comes to vaccination. Sadly, education on this issue is completely one sided and is more akin to an indoctrination." - Jane Dean, London

"Thank you Jo-Anna.  As I read this list of comments, I thought I must be the only person in the UK who DOESN'T agree with compulsory vaccination. I thought this was a free country!!" - Kathy Howlett, Hull

"Very definitely. Why should others, including teachers, be put at risk, particularly when the level of uptake has fallen so low?" - E Gibson, Glasgow

"I think it should be compulsory for the vaccine to be given before the child starts school. Parents should be informed of their responsibility and contribution for their own children's good health as well as the protection given by the immunised children and their contribution. Compulsion would prevent ill informed choice and give and maintain collective responsibility for all parents" - V Henry, London

"I feel all children should receive primary immunisation as well as MMR before they can attend nurseries or school. If parents feel strongly about MMR then they must ensure they receive separate vaccination (waste of time as far as I am concerned). There is no place for complacency, the risks are too high." - Mary Swinney, South Tyneside

"I most certainly agree that children should be given the vaccine before starting school and that more needs to be done to educate parents in this respect." - Mary Connolly

"Yes, I agree. This would also go for the primary immunisations. I agree that the child is thereby becoming the innocent subject but why should other children be put at risk because parents decide not to have their own children immunised? They would then have a choice to send their children into private education if they would be willing to accept children who are not immunised. We are now trialing a form for parents to sign, which states that they do not want their child immunised and they are willing to accept responsibility if this child would become ill with any of the illnesses for which protection was offered but declined. It actually does make parents think about their decision!" - J Ward, Hemel Hempstead

"The rest of Europe have enforced this policy, and parents who have declined MMR in the past and now want to move to France, for example, have been told that their children cannot attend school until they are vaccinated. That has brought about a change of heart, and they have had the children vaccinated! Which is all very well, but the parents said that they only had the so-called interests of their children at heart when they were small. What happened to their strong principles when it came to them interfering with their own plans?" - Angela Ratcliffe, Essex

"Absolutely" - Berna Lunt, London

"Where do we draw the line? To say that you can't have access to free education because of parental choice not to have a vaccine is like suggesting that smokers or the obese should not have access to free NHS treatment. More should be done to educate, through the media, the benefits of having children vaccinated and the potential disadvantages of not having them vaccinated. This would be much more useful, rather than discriminating a child for their parent's choice." - Jo-Anna Grove, Hereford