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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

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Re: UK doctors re-examine case for mandatory vaccination

The motion has been raised to look at the advantages and disadvantages of making childhood immunisation mandatory. I'd like to share some thoughts to help the discussions.

Our group JABS is a support group of parents of vaccine-damaged children and I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that doctors' children are not immune to vaccine damage. We have parents from many groups of the medical establishment (consultants, doctors, nurses etc) that have reported serious life-changing events following reactions to routine vaccinations. Some of the doctors have actually vaccinated their own children and now have to live with the consequences. We have asked some if they will speak out but they have told us of their fears for their reputations, promotion prospects even their final pension plans. I can understand this.

Parents have reported to us that their children were healthy and developing well and regardless of the age when vaccinated the children have suffered adverse reactions within the incubation periods of the vaccines and developed long-term problems also recognised by the manufacturers' in their own product information sheets. Treating physicians have been unable to give an alternative explanation for the children's medical decline other than it was coincidental to the vaccinations.

We have a strange double standards in operation. When a child is due for a vaccination medical staff are happy to discuss the minor reactions and state that they are very common but the serious reactions also known to the drug companies are supposedly so 'rare' that background prevalence of a disease is always the answer. Yet if a child were to have a vaccine preventable disease and suffer the exact same symptoms and long-term consequences medical staff would have no hesitation in blaming the disease and the parent for not vaccinating.

Where do medical staff get their information on how 'rare' a serious reaction is? The passive surveillance system is recognised as a poor collection service with less than 5-10 per cent of serious reactions being put forward through the yellow card system.

And those reactions that are put forward to the MHRA? In conversations with staff I have been told that if a card contains details of a reaction known to be associated with the vaccine, for example a febrile convulsion, it is just ticked off and no further action taken. There apparently is no follow-up six to 12 months later to determine if the child fully recovered from the reaction or if the child's health and mental state has seriously changed. I know this from personal experience.

Mandatory vaccinations were tried once before in the UK in the late 1800s. It did not go well. There was great hostility and considerable resistance and the plans had to be abandoned. There is no mandate in the UK for any government to impose compulsory vaccination. Without democratic consent such a policy would face escalating opposition.

You only need to see what is going on in Italy right now following government plans to pass laws quickly through its parliament, without public consultation, for mandatory vaccinations with threats of heavy fines, children to be excluded from nurseries, potential prison sentences for non-payers and the diabolical announcement that children could be forcibly removed from their parents and vaccinated.

Ever since the plans were announced, Italian people have been taking to the streets of their major cities each weekend in huge numbers (thousands and thousands) to peacefully protest against this attack on civil liberties. Is this really the way UK doctors want to take us?

And how could compulsory vaccinations be enforced? My son, who is severely vaccine-damaged, has had many hospital emergencies because of his conditions and from being a baby through infancy to adulthood every time we are in the A & E department bloods need to be taken and staff have told us many times over the years that they are not allowed to restrain our son. My husband and I are expected to hold and calm him whilst they draw blood. If you as a doctor are faced with parents who refuse to give consent and a distressed, screaming child who is thrashing their arms about and refuses to co-operate, how do you vaccinate the child safely? And how do you expect that child or the parents to ever trust you again?

Competing interests: Mother of MMR vaccine-damaged son

21 July 2017
Jackie Fletcher
Warrington, Cheshire UK