Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

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

Rapid Response:

Re: UK doctors re-examine case for mandatory vaccination

Wendy E Stephen raises some interesting issues [1]. Whether it was ever the intention of the Department of Works and Pensions (as it now is) to honour the terms of the 1979 Act, it should be pointed out that at the time - and for a further nine years - it was incorporated with the Department of Health as the Department of Health and Social Security. And even this year they were trying to deny payments on the basis of a frivolous reading of the Act. Obviously there are two issues here: one is averting cost - and I understand that the DWP has to go cap in hand to the Treasury for every individual payment - and the other is protecting the reputation of the programme by making as few payments as possible.

There is simply no basis for trusting governments about vaccines. This is not a good position - particularly considering the vastly expanded schedule of the last 38 years - from which to impose compulsion. The shoddiness of this history - and the lack of transparency - speak for themselves. Let us have some daylight even before anyone begins considering making changes.

[1] Wendy E Stephen, Rapid Responses for Moberly, 'UK doctors re-examine case for mandatory vaccination',

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 August 2017
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22