Children should be banned from starting school until they have had MMR vaccine

Tuesday 10th September 2019 09:49 EDT

Children should not be allowed to start primary school unless they have been given the MMR vaccine, senior GPs have said.

The jab, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, should be mandatory for four and five-year-olds unless parents have registered a conscientious objection or the child's health prevents it, they said.

In a letter to ministers, the four GPs, who hold senior positions at clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in London, said a policy shift would tackle 'complacency' among parents.

Earlier this year, the Royal Society for Public Health said social media had become a 'breeding ground for misleading information' from so-called anti-vaxxers, who claim jabs like MMR can cause conditions including autism.

The letter, reported by the Guardian, said: 'Schools need to check that all their pupils have been vaccinated. In other countries, certificates of vaccination are required prior to school entry.

'Here in the UK we could mandate that all children need to be vaccinated by a health professional, allowing for exemptions for either conscientious objection or medical contraindication.'

'There is a precedent in the UK. Vaccination against smallpox was made compulsory for all children born after 1853 and today doctors need to show evidence of vaccination or immunity from various illnesses so we do not put patients at risk,' it added.

They urged Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, to back the recommendation.

Sir Sam Everington, chair of the London Clinical Commissioning Council, signed the letter along with Dr Mohini Parmar, Dr Andrew Parson and Dr Josephine Sauvage.

All four are also clinical (medical) chairs of CCGs, which allocate health service spending, in different regions of the capital.

In August it was revealed cases of mumps hit their highest level in a decade, with a rise in anti-vaccine myths blamed for the spike.

There were 2,028 cases of mumps confirmed between April and June, the highest quarterly figure since 2009.

Measles also increased to 301 cases over the same period, with nearly 266 of those in unvaccinated people aged 15 or over.

After the figures were released, Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, condemned anti-vaxxers and said jabs 'remain the best chance we have of protecting our children from potentially deadly illnesses'.

'These stark rises in mumps and measles cases show that complacency about vaccines is misplaced and dangerous,' he said.

The number of five-year-olds receiving both doses of MMR in England is 87.2%, according to an article in the British Medical Journal, well below the World Health Organisation recommendation of 95%.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, has also criticised conspiracy theories about vaccination as 'mumbo-jumbo', urging parents to 'please get your kids vaccinated.'

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