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Mandatory childhood vaccination could cause “irreparable damage,” says expert panel

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 11 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l5995
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Politicians keep suggesting compulsory vaccination as a viable option to increase update rates, despite protests from the medical profession. Elisabeth Mahase reports

Making it mandatory for children to be vaccinated could result in “irreparable damage” by turning the decision whether to vaccinate into a rights issue, a panel of experts has argued.

An event at the Science Media Centre in London on 8 October was billed as a debate on the issue of mandatory vaccination, but all the speakers argued against compulsion. They said that the drop in rates of vaccination seen in the UK was mainly due to access problems, with vaccine hesitancy forming a smaller part of the problem.

The panel was assembled in response to a comment by the health secretary for England, Matt Hancock. At the Conservative Party conference in September he said that there was a “very strong argument for having compulsory vaccinations for children.” England’s chief medical officer, Sally Davis, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today news programme in October, also said that mandatory vaccination may become necessary.

The latest figures, …

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