UK doctors re-examine case for mandatory vaccinationBMJ 2017; 358 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j3414 (Published 18 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3414
All rapid responses
As a concerned parent I felt compelled to write a response to the raising concerns of many parents regarding mandatory vaccination rolling across Europe. I am highly disturbed that this is now being disscussed here in the UK.
My family have two vaccine injured children as a result of following the recommended vaccine schedule. Niether parent received full information of the serious side effects. No vaccine insert was given nor more than a 5 minute discussion. No questions were asked about past medical history or family genetics. Only that they are "safe and effective" .I am sure they would of appreciated a more in depth assessment of their medical history before being given a life sentence of disability for the sake of a week or two of say.. measles...
In the 70's and 80's I remember measles well. It was classed as a "normal part of childhood " in my day. That's not to say that it can't cause serious problems in a small sub set of children or adults whose immune systems are compromised. However, the vast majority came through it just like the chicken pox. Why are we swapping normal childhood illness with vaccine damage and waning herd immunity? Most of us know that natural herd immunity is far superior to the artificial version that requires numerous boosters. Which we now know will need an adult schedule to fill the gap. America and Australia are already trying to implement it. There must be a better way. Are heading towards cradle to grave?
Due to waning natural immunity pregnant mothers are now being injected with vaccines which have never been tested for safety. Once upon a time mothers passed on immunity to their babies through breastmilk.
The vaccine damage payment scheme in this country requires 60% damage to of been caused before being awarded a one off payment of £120,000. That is not enough to cover lifetime costs of a disability. What if your child is only 55% damaged? Where does the burden then lie? What happens to these children when they become adults and the parents pass away? Who picks up the bill then? The UK to date has payed out over £74 million in vaccine damage. However, how many more under the 60% threshold are being supported through welfare payments and hospital treatments?
Is there not a way with our technological and medical advances that children can be screened BEFORE being given a cocktail of antigens and chemicals to assess their suitability? Can parents not discuss family genetics and concerns with their GP's without fear? This is not a way to gain a patients trust.
If the UK were to mandate vaccination that strips away our parental rights of making a fully informed medical decision. To allow government to roll out a one size fits all vaccine schedule would strip away our freedom to make a decision based on our child's own individuality. We have a duty of care above all others to our children. We know our children and their history best. No one else has a right to take that away.
I see it as neglectful if we DON'T raise these concerns about the safety and efficacy of vaccination. There are 100's of scientific studies which raise serious questions. These are accessible to the public and anyone can read them.
There are approx 200 new vaccines in development and approval stages .. When will this madness end?
Competing interests: No competing interests
How, and why, are UK doctors able to re-examine the case for mandatory vaccination when they have not properly, and independently, examined the case for vaccination in the first place?
The science has never been settled on this subject, right from its inception back in the days of Jenner’s smallpox vaccination. Numerous books and papers by medical and scientific professionals were published during the 1800s opposing and exposing the practice of vaccination, especially when the 1853 Vaccination Act was introduced, and then toughened in 1867. (1) The Anti-Vaccination movement involved numerous highly educated doctors – who tirelessly spoke out and published their findings eventually leading to the abolishment of the compulsory smallpox vaccination act. Even The Lancet, when the first Compulsory Vaccination bill was before Parliament, on the 21st May 1853, expressed: ‘In the public mind, extensively, and in the profession itself, doubts are known to exist as to the efficacy and eligibility of vaccination – the failures of the operation have been numerous and discouraging.’
There is a wealth of literature spanning over a century and a half on this subject that throws this procedure into question and yet it seems to fall on the deaf ears of the medical hierarchy?
The vaccine industry has grown enormously since the smallpox vaccine and it is one of most heavily ‘protected’ areas in medicine. A no-go area for any critical discussion, examination and independent analysis. Doctors and scientists who dare to indicate any concerns are met with hostility, ridicule, censorship, and sometimes dismissal from their profession. This does not encourage others to voice concerns for fear of repercussion, and sadly they remain silent. Additionally the vast majority of doctors do very little study on vaccination and just simply follow guidelines and are quite often unaware of the history of vaccination and the epidemiology of infectious disease over the last two centuries.
I have been studying this subject since September 1991, starting from a position of neutrality. I had almost no knowledge on the subject and no bias and yet the more I studied, including researching at medical libraries, the more concerned I became. Sadly, I have witnessed an ever-increasing number of vaccines being introduced into the vaccine schedule and an ever-increasing pressure on parents to follow the schedule. The media coverage on this subject is scandalous, keeping much of the general public, including doctors, in the dark. The grossly exaggerated description of diseases, for example, measles or mumps are highly misleading and used to create fear and increase vaccine uptake.
Do we now witness extremely healthy children, mentally and physically, within the developed and highly vaccinated areas of the world? It seems not?
Born in 1959 – I hardly received any vaccinations, swiftly went through measles, mumps and chickenpox, and have hardly ever been to the doctors. I have not even met my GP since moving in 2003. I did not witness such ill-health throughout my school days and as a young adult that I now see everywhere I turn. Allergies, asthmas, ADHD, learning difficulties, juvenile diabetes, an array of mental disorders, to name just a few. Conditions all of which vaccines have the biological potential to play a causal role.
I have lost count how many times a parent has contacted me regarding their child’s deterioration, including death, after receiving a vaccine or vaccines over my years involved in this subject. These occurrences are labelled mostly as timely coincidences – or sneered at as only being ‘anecdotal’ and never properly investigated.
We all share a common goal – good health for all and for future generations. The growing number of people who are now starting to look into vaccination are doing so, not just from a personal standpoint but also for a compassion for the health of the world population. According to a survey published in 2016 Europe was the most sceptical region in the world about vaccine safety, in particular France. (2)
However, instead of initiating a proper public debate on this matter, and investigating the mounting concerns, where do we find ourselves in 2017? Strict mandatory laws and fines are being introduced in Italy and in Germany fines and possible expulsion from daycare centres if the parents fail to seek vaccination advice. The French government will be mandating vaccines from 2018 moving towards a similar initiative to Italy. Now here in the UK the British Medical Association are being asked to consider the case for mandatory vaccination!'
This is medical tyranny at its extreme and I am horrified that in this day and age such measures are even being considered let alone implemented!
Even biologist Thomas Weber, despite his favour for vaccination ends his article with ‘Paternalistic and coercive attitudes were harmful in the 19th century and are even less appropriate in the 21st century.’ (3)
It is time for independent examination, without recrimination and not a time for coercive measures which inflict upon our freedom of choice.
1. Pearce Charles T. MD. Vaccination: Its Tested Effects on Health, Mortality and Population (1868)
(One good example.)
2. Arie S BMJ 2017;358:j3429 Compulsory vaccination and growing measles threat.
3. Weber P Thomas, Emerging Inf Dis, Vol 16, No.4, April 2010; Alfred Russel Wallace and the Antivaccination Movement in Victorian England
Competing interests: No competing interests
John P.A.Ioannidis introduced the notion of "evidence-based hearsay" determining the use of medical treatments. (1)
The "safety of vaccines" can be considered as hearsay as it does not have a proper evidence base. In contrast to scrutiny of medication (pharmacovigilance), proper vaccinevigilance does not exist. Proper and consistent research into long term side-effects from vaccines does not exist. (2)
As a result, do we now have endemics of (chronic) non-communicable disease (NCD) with mortality and morbidity greater than that from vaccine prevented (acute) infectious diseases in the well nourished and hygienic societies? (3)
To further illustrate the lack of vaccinevigilance, take hormone replacement therapy (HRT), aspirin and statins: proper debates have been able to inform patients' (and doctors') opinions.
Instead, ideology leads (non-informed) debates on vaccines and not evidence based medicine (EBM).
In Italy, compulsory vaccination is supported with slogans like: "vaccination is not an opinion".
Reading Tom Moberly's description of the BMA meeting, the motion at the meeting "to make childhood vaccination mandatory" seemed to be based on an emotional repulsion of "anti-vaxxers" by un-informed doctors.
Regulatory bodies (e.g. for doctors) however suggest that health professionals should help patients to come to an informed decision, through a process called shared decision making (SDM). As such, when the issue "mandatory" comes on the scene and relating "mandatory" to each and every person in the land, it is surprising to see that word used by doctors.
Still, emotions can even be more easily influenced in members of parliament and people in worldwide health organizations, as these people, due to their background and lack of EBM training, have even less defence against the lobbying prowess of the pharmaceutical industries. (4, 5)
Vaccines are big business as each and every person on the planet is a customer, in contrast to e.g. HRT, aspirin and statins.(6) Several hundred vaccines are in development. (4)
Furthermore, vaccine immunity wanes and boosters are needed which provides for returning customers.
Tom Morberly's report on the BMA meeting exemplifies that ideology maintains the vaccine panacea dogma, as a spokeswoman told him that the BMA would "consider producing a summary of previous work on vaccination policies". In other words, the BMA is condoning ideology based on "previous work" and lack of research into vaccine side-effects?
However, the NIHR (7) reports on a Cochrane review that showed that: "parents want more balanced information on risks and benefits in advance of vaccinations" (8)
But in fact, the NIHR immediately hijacks this Cochrane review by concluding with ideology rather than the reviewers conclusions: "The review findings support immunisation guidance from NICE, PHE and the Royal College of Nursing. Further research is needed to understand the decisions of groups highlighted in NICE guidance, such as homeless families, non-English speaking parents and teenage parents." This blatant hijack needs a formal apology to David Sackett (9), Cochrane and the public from the responsible individuals or is this acceptable vaccine EBM behaviour?
If acceptable, the new WHO president Dr Adhanom Ghebreyesus needs to remain vigilant or might see the increase in burden of disease due to morbidity and mortality with the introduction of vaccines in countries with no or low vaccination rates due to (unscrutinized) NCD endemics that now affect the developed, highly vaccinated world.
John Ioannidis calls for keeping the EBM course and throwing the pirates overboard. (10)
The question is, does his call include vaccinevigilance, and will epidemiologists hear and act on his call?
1 Ioannidis, John PA. Does evidence-based hearsay determine the use of medical treatments?. Diss. Stanford University, 2017. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953617300849
2 Havinga W. Re: Is the timing of recommended childhood vaccines evidence based? RR BMJ 29 February 2016 http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i867/rr-7
3 Havinga W. EBM and vaccines #AskforEvidence. RR BMJ 5 January 2014 http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g22/rr/680259
4 ABPI news release. World Immunisation Week: Parliamentarians highlight value of vaccines to UK. 28 April 2016 http://www.abpi.org.uk/media-centre/newsreleases/2016/Pages/World-Immuni... (accessed on 22 July 2017)
5 Havinga W. Not red flags but red carpet treatment for vaccination guidelines. RR BMJ 28 September 2013 http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5535/rr/664108
6 Bioportfolio. Reports http://www.bioportfolio.com/vaccines/reports (accessed on 22 July 2017)
7 NIHR Signal. Parents want more balanced information on risks and benefits in advance of vaccinations. (accessed on 22 July 2017) https://discover.dc.nihr.ac.uk/portal/article/4000684/parents-want-more-...
8 Ames, Heather MR, Claire Glenton, and Simon Lewin. "Parents' and informal caregivers' views and experiences of communication about routine childhood vaccination: a synthesis of qualitative evidence." The Cochrane Library(2017). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD011787.pub2/full#C...
9 Ioannidis, John PA. "Evidence-based medicine has been hijacked: a report to David Sackett." Journal of clinical epidemiology 73 (2016): 82-86. http://www.jclinepi.com/article/S0895-4356(16)00147-5/fulltext
10 Ioannidis, John PA. "Hijacked evidence-based medicine: stay the course and throw the pirates overboard." Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 84 (2017): 11-13. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0895435617301440
Competing interests: No competing interests
There appears to be a campaign for coercive vaccination underway around the world. Who is orchestrating this campaign?
Coercive vaccination is already in place in Australia, i.e. the 'No Jab, No Pay' law, and also in the United States. Recently coercive vaccination policies have emerged in Italy, France and Germany. Now similar moves are afoot in the UK, being promoted by members of the British Medical Association. In tandem, more and more vaccine products are being added to taxpayer-funded vaccination schedules around the world, without open consultation with citizens about the level of disease risk that warrants mass vaccination interventions. Far from consultation, citizens are even being censored and denied the opportunity to debate vaccination policy, as I know from personal experience. It seems that citizens and their children are being set up to be compliant to each and every vaccine product in the vaccine industry's pipeline.
For example, currently in Australia, children aged from birth to 15 years will have at least 46 doses of vaccines via combined vaccine products and revaccinations (many of these are required to access government benefits). This does not include the annual flu vaccinations we are all being pressured to have.
Discerning citizens are questioning the quality of the 'peer-reviewed literature' supporting vaccine products, much of which may be conflicted by associations with industry. It's alarming that this material, which is impacting on international vaccination policy, is often not 'open access' for citizens' perusal, but hidden behind journal paywalls. There appears to be little in the way of genuinely independent and objective review of this journal literature, and government produced material promoting vaccination is also open to question.
With governments imposing mandatory vaccination, it's time for citizens around the world to demand a review of taxpayer-funded vaccination schedules. There must be a re-examination of the evidence supporting the burgeoning number of vaccine products and revaccinations being imposed upon children. This is particularly crucial in light of conflicts of interest in vaccination policy.
The mainstream media is largely failing to provide critical analysis of international vaccination policy. The Guardian's recent editorial attacking "antivaxxers of the western world" (8 July 2017) is an example of the crude and poorly-informed journalism which ignores legitimate concerns about the ever-increasing vaccine load being imposed upon children. Facile articles about 'vaccination' fail to consider that individual vaccine products and revaccinations are open to question. Similarly the use of the disparaging term 'antivaxxer' during the British Medical Association's recent meeting reflexively denigrates vaccine averse parents who I suggest may be justifiably worried about the over-use of vaccine products. Doctors would do well to exhibit some caution and humility, and keep in mind the possibility of 'unintended consequences' with the over-use of vaccine products, as has occurred with the over-use of antibiotics in the medical industry.
Cautious parents have every right to be wary of the vast array of lucrative vaccine products and revaccinations now being foisted upon children, does this constitute over-vaccination and over-servicing? Citizens have the right to question the quality and objectivity of the evidence supporting vaccination interventions. Where do we turn to get transparency and accountability on this matter?
Competing interests: No competing interests
Farah Jameel refers to "...negligent parents who choose not to vaccinate their children, despite the safe evidence base..." (Moberly, BMJ 2017;358:j3414) However, it is the vaccine authorities who are truly negligent. They do small, short-term trials to get vaccines licensed, but never do the large, long-term, controlled trials that might convincingly show long-term effectiveness and freedom from rare, serious, adverse effects. This is the basic reason why we continue to squabble about vaccines and autism, Kawasaki disease, multiple sclerosis, etc. There are other points:
1. The overall benefits and harms of seasonal influenza vaccine are still unknown because the requisite controlled trials have never been done. (McIntosh, NEJM 2000; 342: 275-276) "Negative vaccine effectiveness" is now regularly reported, signifying that some flu vaccines actually increase the risk of illness from seasonal influenza. Prior receipt of seasonal flu shots doubled the risk of illness from the 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic flu. (Skowronski, PLoS Medicine 2010; 7(4):e1000258) The Pandemrix narcolepsy and FluZone seizure catastrophes are still fresh in some memories. The latest bad news is a 20% increase in autism risk among the offspring of mothers who received flu shots early in pregnancy. (Hooker, Donzelli, Zerbo. JAMA Pediatr 2017; 171: 600-602)
2. The disappointing performance of acellular pertussis vaccine has prompted some experts to suggest that the US bring back the whole cell vaccine. (Sawyer, JAMA Pediatr 2016;170:600-602) Many cringe at the memory of terrible adverse effects from DTwP, and their concern has been increased by information that in poor countries DTwP doubles all-cause infant mortality after 3 months of age. (Mogensen, Aaby. EBioMedicine 2017; 17:192-198)
3. In spite of publicity favoring HPV vaccine we will not know for decades if it is safe or effective. (Haug, New Scientist 9/16/11)
4. Since August 2014 there have been at least 295 US cases of acute flaccid myelitis. AFM is virtually identical to poliomyelitis, occurs mainly in young schoolchildren, and peaks in September when they return to school. It is not reassuring that, in spite of its status as a "mystery disease" (possibly caused by non-polio enteroviruses) and the known history of "provocation polio/provocation paralysis" authorities have declined to consider a role for vaccine injections. (CDC, AFM in the United States, 7/3/17)
5. We are constantly reassured about the safety of getting several vaccines at one time, but at least one healthy young adult died from a rare autoimmune disease because she was given several vaccines at one sitting. (US Department of Defense, News Release No. 868-03, November 19, 2003)
This is only a partial list, but it is enough to suggest that there are legitimate concerns about vaccine safety and effectiveness, and that parents who decline certain vaccines at certain times are neither foolish nor unethical.
In some settings a case can be made for mandating measles vaccine, but why--in response to the European measles outbreak--did France and Italy mandate several other vaccines in addition to measles?
Competing interests: No competing interests
I read with concern Tom Moberly's report that the British Medical Association is trying to open a debate about mandating vaccines in the United Kingdom  having already made a number of relevant observations under an earlier article . Most fundamentally, I would urge the medical establishment to exercise a little humility when today's scientific orthodoxy could so easily in retrospect become tomorrow's horrific misjudgement. It does not help when we see all vaccine critics dismissed by the Guardian newspaper or, by CEO of Gavi, in the Spectator in abusive terms as "anti-vaxxers" [3, 4], when it is far from clear that every issue in vaccine safety has been resolved - or that we can even begin to assess the risks while denying a respectful hearing to patients or their families, which pre-empts both evidence and argument in an inappropriate way. In my experience the most vociferous vaccine critics hitherto have not so much been people with an ideological objection to vaccination as people who had had their children vaccinated and regretted it. Such indiscriminate (scorched earth) strategies scarcely command the moral high ground.
Moreover, disregarding the highly intolerant atmosphere which is being generated in some quarters it is not evident that even if the science involved could approach the level of being definitive that it is anywhere near that at present. For example, three successive reports by Cochrane on the safety of MMR have declared [5,6,7]:
"The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate."
which would indicate that the science has never been done (and some might consider it a bit late now). I also note the current complaint to the European Ombudsman regarding HPV vaccines and the European Medicines authority from Nordic Cochrane [8,9]. Though HPV vaccines may or may not be mandated the complaint partly relates to the uncertain science surrounding aluminium adjuvants which are also used in scheduled infant vaccines such as Infanrix Hexa , Prevenar  and Bexsero . Yet this science is being publicly promoted as if infallible. There are surely lessons here from history. Meanwhile, it is far from apparent that Dr Farah Jameel who proposed the motion at the BMA had the remotest idea of these shortcomings .
Nor is it immediately obvious that the threat from infectious diseases has increased in any degree to justify such an abrupt change in policy (and in a way which could antagonise people presently much more well disposed to the vaccine programme than I might be myself). A greater problem which presently demands attention from health officials is the steep, unexplained rise in neurological disorders such as autism, which even now seem to be gathering dramatic momentum [13, 14, 15].
 Tom Moberly, 'UK doctors re-examine case for mandatory vaccination', BMJ 2017; 358 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j3414 (Published 18 July 2017)
 Rapid Responses to Peter Doshi, 'US government website for collecting adverse events after vaccination is inaccessible to most users', http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2449/rapid-responses
 Editorial: 'The Guardian view on vaccination: a matter of public health' , The Guardian 7 July 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/07/the-guardian-view-...
 Seth Berkley, 'Anti-vaxxers have embraced social media; we paying for fake news with real lives' Spectator Health 28 June 2017, https://health.spectator.co.uk/anti-vaxxers-have-embraced-social-media-w...
 Jefferson T, Price D, Demicheli V, Bianco E, 'Unintended events following immunization with MMR: a systematic review' 2003 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12922131
 Demicheli V, Jefferson T, Rivetti A, Price D., 'Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children', 2005 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16235361
 Demicheli V, Rivetti A, Debalini MG, Di Pietrantonj C, ''Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children', 2012.
 Stephane Foucart , http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2016/12/09/papillomavirus-les-auto...
 Gøtzsche P, Jørgensen K, Jefferson J, Auken M , Brinth L, 'Complaint to the European ombudsman over maladministration at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in relation to the safety of the HPV vaccines', http://nordic.cochrane.org/sites/nordic.cochrane.org/files/public/upload...
 Helen McArdle, 'Call for investigation as 20 young Scots a day are rejected fro mental health care', Sunday Herald 20 December 2016, http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14975962.Call_for_investigation_as_20...
 Brett Campbell, 'Autism assessment list now at crisis level, says MLA', 22 December 2016, http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/autism-assessmen...
 Jane Dreaper, 'Autism diagnoses 'could be reduced under NHS plan'', BBC News 27 May 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40058482
Competing interests: No competing interests
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
It is important that the debate is had in advance of an epidemic or public health emergency in order to assure a graduated and proportionate public health law response. Mandated vaccination of children is not currently warranted in light of the current levels of herd immunity. Important historical lessons on the efficacy of legal mandate flow from the 19th Century Vaccination Acts. A more moderate approach was recommended in Lord Herschell’s 1896 Royal Commission and reflected in the Vaccination Act 1898. The issue of avoidable harm applies both to the vaccinated and unvaccinated – especially in light of the June European Court of Justice ruling (W and Others v Sanofi Pasteur MSD SNC and Other C621-15) that circumstantial evidence such as the timing of the onset of disease can support the link between vaccination and subsequent disease.
Two issues might tip the balance in favour of enhanced measures of compulsion. (See more https://doi.org/10.1111/lest.12144). One is development of child welfare arguments. This focuses on the best interests of the child rather than the public interest in ‘herd immunity’. Already the courts in England and Wales favour vaccination in cases of parental dispute, even (in one case) where the adolescent children objected. Another is a fall in vaccine uptake or rise in infection. The spectre of epidemic and pandemic can warrant emergency measures and threaten the proportionality of the response (and civil liberties). It is good to see the BMA debate these issues now. The debate should extend beyond what is appropriate today to encompass the circumstances in which degrees of compulsion would be defensible.
Competing interests: No competing interests