Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Child vaccination rates in England fall across the board, figures show

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 26 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5773

Rapid Response:

Upholding Informed Consent for Vaccines

Following my response to Robert A Hendry of the Medical Protection Society three days ago [1] I compiled a complete list of side-effects from Patient Information Leaflets for the four vaccine products administered routinely to an 8 week old infant. Allowing for Rapid Response guidelines the assembled information required two letters to encompass it all, and I am not entirely surprised these have not been published (nor did I begin on contra-indications).

Important questions remain. Is it possible to accept such a dosage as safe? Is it possible to say with any certainty that the benefits outweigh the risks (according to the traditional rubric)? We know by and large that infants survive the barrage but are we in any position to say that this is without cost to their future health and development (even if less likely to catch certain infectious diseases)? At what point if a child did not survive would the system be capable of acknowledging responsibility (I wonder if it has ever even happened)?

To have informed discussion, of course, doctors would have to begin by informing themselves and respecting patients.

[1] John Stone, 'Re: Child vaccination rates in England fall across the board, figures show', 4 October 2019,

Competing interests: No competing interests

07 October 2019
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22