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:

Vaccination Uptake, Informed Consent and the Montgomery Ruling


In the rush to streamline vaccination delivery [1] it is essential that health authorities do not neglect their legal obligation for fully informed consent for all medical procedures as affirmed as recently as 2015 in the Montgomery ruling [2,3]. For instance, I read to today about a new digital system for obtaining parental consent for vaccinating schoolchildren by Dorset Healthcare [4] but it is not clear whether parents will be provided with patient information leaflets or have the undoubted risks of various products listed within them drawn to their attention. Simply assuring them that vaccines are safe, or that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks, may fall short of legal requirements. While the Prime Minister recently dismissed vaccine safety concerns as "mumbo-jumbo" he may have been leaning towards the cavalier [5]. The constant attack in the media and by government on people with legitimate safety concerns is deplorable, and may lead to harms being overlooked.

[1] Gareth Iacobucci, 'Child vaccination rates in England fall across the board, figures show'
BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 26 September 2019)

[2] MDU, 'Montgomery and Informed Consent',

[3] Responses to Rimmer, NHS chief attacks anti-vax “fake news” for falling uptake'
BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 04 March 2019),

[4] Alex Cutler, 'Dorset changes to giving consent to children's vaccinations', Dorset Echo 2 October 2019,

[5] 'UK's Johnson slams 'mumbo-jumbo' about vaccines after measles rates rise', Reuters 19 August 2019,

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 October 2019
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22