Student voice

Is it time to make MMR vaccination compulsory?

Nurses need to counteract the anti-vaccination movement’s propaganda

The anti-vaccination movement is strong and nurses should do all they can to counteract its propaganda

The drop in the number of parents having their children immunised is having devastating effects as cases of measles and mumps are on the rise.


The anti-vaccination campaign centres on the MMR vaccine which was falsely linked to autism. Picture: iStock

In 2017, measles was officially declared ‘eliminated’ in the UK according to the World Health Organization – meaning the number of cases was at a low enough level to stop it spreading to the general population. So why are we having outbreaks again?

Propaganda

Propaganda and false information has been taking over from what we know to be true.

The anti-vaccination campaign is based on unfounded information. Therefore, we need to provide correct information to help parents make informed decisions.

The anti-vaccination case stems from the unethical work of Andrew Wakefield, who attempted to link the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism in a now discredited paper published in the Lancet. Dr Wakefield was struck off the General Medical Council’s register in the UK and has moved to the US where he has gathered supporters.

Importance of herd immunity

As nurses we need to promote the meaning and the importance of herd immunity. We also need to produce patient information that emphasises the risks of measles and shows parents the damage not having the vaccination can cause.

Children have their own protected rights which need to be upheld. If parents refuse to take their children to school there will be an investigation, which can sometimes lead to enforcement because children have a right to an education.

If parents are refusing to protect their children’s health, a similar stance must be taken and immunisation should be made compulsory.

There is a reason why a childhood vaccination programme was introduced – to protect our children and our communities. We need to allow it to continue to do so. 


Chris Steele is a third-year children’s nursing student at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk

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