Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Communicable Disease

UK doctors re-examine case for mandatory vaccination

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 18 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3414
  1. Tom Moberly, UK editor, The BMJ
  1. tmoberly{at}

Tom Moberly examines the arguments over the best way to persuade all parents to protect their children from preventable disease

Mandating childhood immunisation continues to be contentious in the UK, and a motion on the issue was fiercely debated at the BMA’s annual representatives meeting last month.

The motion, which called on the BMA to look at the advantages and disadvantages of making childhood immunisation mandatory, was proposed by Farah Jameel, a general practitioner in London. “Parents who willingly choose not to vaccinate their children, despite the safe evidence base are displaying negligent behaviours that are in some cases seriously harming the health of children, who have no say or control over this decision, and in extreme situations costing lives,” she told the meeting.

The motion, which also included a clause stating that the meeting “condemns anti-vaxxers who deny immunisations to their children,” was passed as a reference, rather than as a substantive motion. This means that the delegates have asked the BMA to look at the issue and decide how to take it …

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