FAILING to give your child the MMR jab should be against the law, a leading doctor has said.
Writing in the BMJ, Eleanor Draeger urged Britain to ban kids from school if they haven’t been vaccinated against measles.
She said: “We would argue that the UK now needs to legislate to increase vaccination rates, as current measures aren’t keeping rates high enough.”
The childhood disease is surging as parents worried by scare stories on social media shun the vaccine.
Measles cases quadruple
Numbers of measles cases quadrupled from 259 in 2017 to 966 in 2018.
Another 231 were diagnosed in England in the first three months of this year.
Vaccination rates, meanwhile, have dropped steadily to 87.2 per cent – a level not high enough to provide widespread immunity.
Nine other European countries, including Italy and France, make the jab, which is given in two doses by the age of four, compulsory, said Dr Draeger, a sexual health expert and medical writer.
Some 30 per cent more kids had been vaccinated in Italy since the law was changed there. Legislation in Australia has also led to thousands more having the jab, she said.
She added that although “many parents wrongly believe the rhetoric that vaccines are harmful, unnatural and an infringement of civil liberties”, a no jab, no school rule would give parents freedom of choice, while protecting other youngsters from infection.
Fake news on social media to blame
Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that he is “particularly worried” about fake posts on social media and last month refused to rule out mandatory jabs.
But other doctors argue that making the jab mandatory could erode trust in the NHS and turn parents against vaccination.
MEASLES: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
MEASLES is a highly contagious viral illness that can be prevented by taking the MMR vaccine.
While the infectious condition often clears up in under two weeks, it can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications.
Public Health England has confirmed the UK has seen a rise in cases in 2018, with 643 confirmed cases of measles so far this year, compared to just 267 for the whole of 2017.
Health experts have said it is part of a rise in cases across Europe.
The illness is highly contagious and is easily spread from person to person.
Viruses can be expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezing.
These can then be inhaled by someone who comes into contact with droplets, which may remain in the air or settle on a surface.
Spending just 15 minutes with someone who has measles can lead to the disease spreading.
What are the symptoms?
Approximately 10 days after the illness is contracted, signs become noticeable.
The NHS outlines the initial symptoms of measles…
- cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and a cough
- sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
- a high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C (104F)
- small greyish-white spots on the inside of the cheeks
A few days after these flu-like symptoms manifest, a rash often begins to appear.
Distinctive red-brown blotches spring up on the body, typically beginning at the upper neck and spreading downwards.
Severe complications can occur, including miscarriage in pregnant women, brain swelling and the risk of death from pneumonia.
MOST READ IN HEALTH
Dr David Elliman, of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, told the BMJ that the UK should concentrate on making it easier for children to get immunised.
This could be by putting on vaccination sessions at family-friendly times and giving the jab to kids in A&E.
He said: “Only when these components are in place should we consider mandatory vaccination.”
The MMR jab is free for adults and kids on the NHS.
It’s important to have two doses to have full cover against measles, mumps and rubella. The jabs can be given a month apart.
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