AUT Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences
31 Jan 2018 6 Respondents
By Vanessa Peutherer
VX Community
Boss (11004 XP)
Childhood Immunisation in the UK - Weekly Snapshot

Childhood Immunisation in the UK - Weekly Snapshot

Immunisation is a cornerstone of public health aimed at protecting the public from the consequences of infectious diseases.  Indeed childhood vaccination is well established, rendering diseases such as diphtheria and polio a thing of the past in the UK.  Diphtheria, for example, used to kill 4,000 children a year and is now hardly ever seen in the UK, although two unvaccinated children died in 2015 (one in Spain and one in Europe) (Oxford Vaccine Group 2015). 

Despite the success of childhood vaccinations in drastically reducing the incidence of diseases, it is not without its controversy.  In the 1970s, there were fears linking the Pertussis (Whooping Cough) vaccination with brain damage and more recently, the MMR vaccination was linked with Autism following the now discredited work of Andrew Wakefield.  Once this negative narrative is, amongst other things, publicised in the popular press, refusal to vaccinate due to fear of the consequences, adversely affects uptake (Baker 2003).  Menzel (1995, cited in Holland 2007) argues that parents’ face a dilemma in balancing (potential) risks to their individual child against the need for mass immunisation to control the diseases at a population level to attain herd immunity and Britain has a long history of scepticism regarding vaccination (Baker 2003).

Given the controversies around putative links to autism (MMR vaccination) and the recent return of relatively rare childhood diseases, ensuring uptake of these preventative measures remains a public health priority.  Areas were the decline in uptake of MMR was greatest, experienced significant outbreaks of measles in 2003 e.g. Swansea area with uptake of MMR just 67.5% ( www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-23244628 ).  To avoid this potential deterioration in public health, it is proposed that Childhood vaccination should be made compulsory in the UK.

Baker, J.P. (2003) The pertussis vaccine controversy in Great Britain, 1974-1986  Vaccine  21., pp 4003-4010

Holland, S. (2007) Public Health Ethics Cambridge: Polity Press

Oxford Vaccine Group (2015) Vaccine Knowledge Project.  Authoritative Information For All vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/diphtheria  

Pearl, R. (2015) A Doctor’s Take: Why Measles Vaccination Must be Mandatory Forbes 5 th February 2015 www.forbes.com/sites/robertpearl/2015/02/05/measles-vaccination-must-be-mandatory/#72961d797d98

This case was originally posted by Claire Street ( MMU)  VX Community 2017.

It is proposed that Childhood vaccination should be made compulsory in the UK