Parents back jab as MP advocates compulsory MMR vaccine
PUBLISHED: 19:30 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 October 2019
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Calls for mandatory MMR vaccinations from health secretary Matt Hancock have the backing of parents in Suffolk.
The MP for West Suffolk told a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference said there are "very strong arguments" behind the plans to make all pupils have the vaccine before starting school.
His strong pro-vaccination stance has been supported by mothers and fathers across Suffolk, despite the number of children getting the jab in the county dropping for the last four years.
Mr Hancock added he was "very worried" by falling vaccination rates, with concerns regarding potential allergic reactions and scare stories linking the jab to cases of autism blamed for the drop.
Mother-of-two Becka Smith, from Bury St Edmunds, said: "My eldest had his MMR and my youngest will have all his jabs.
"My eldest is autistic. I do not blame the vaccines at all.
"Frankly it's insulting that there are some parents out there who would prefer to risk the physical health - and possibly the life - of their children just because of the supposed risk of a neurological condition."
Some teachers in the county disagree with the health secretary's hard stance, with one educator describing the potential banning of unvaccinated children as "a bit extreme".
The secondary and sixth from science teacher from Suffolk, who wished to remain anonymous said: "To ban children who have not been vaccinated from nursery is perhaps a bit extreme.
"I think parents who haven't vaccinated should be given clear information about why vaccinations are important.
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"A blanket ban would cause more of a negative than a positive reaction and potentially damage children's education.
"I think though that once a child has reached their GCSE's and have learned about vaccinations for themselves, if they are unvaccinated but wish to be, they should be allowed to go against their parents and get vaccinated at 16."
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of National Education Union, said that schools should not be expected to "police vaccinations" but still need to play their part in countering "the pseudo-science championed by anti-vaccination campaigners".
Dr Mark Shenton, a GP partner at Stowhealth in Stowmarket and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
"As a family doctor I would urge everyone to make sure they protect their own health and the health of others with an MMR vaccine.
"The vaccine is safe and effective. Those who remain unvaccinated are at risk of three separate illnesses - measles, mumps and rubella - which could be fatal or cause very serious complications such as meningitis or deafness.
"If you have doubts or concerns do please talk them through with a health professional."
These comments come after Mr Hancock said there was a "strong argument" behind mandatory vaccination plans.
"I've said before that we should be open-minded, and frankly, what I'd say is that when the state provides services to people then it's a two-way street - you've got to take your responsibilities, too," MR Hancock told a Q&A session hosted by the Huffington Post in Manchester this week.
"So I think there's a very strong argument for having compulsory vaccinations for children when they go to school, because otherwise they're putting other children at risk.
"Then I'd want to make it very easy if the children do arrive at school not vaccinated, simply to get vaccinated, and make it the norm.
"But, I think there's a very strong argument for movement to compulsory vaccination, and I think the public would back us."