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A MEASLY PROPOSAL

12-09-2007

While the debate about the MMR rages on, and parents are put off giving their youngsters the triple vaccine, other children are being put at risk of catching serious diseases. Measles, mumps and rubella in case you hadn't guessed. Dr David Nicholl is needled.

In 1983, in a pre-MMR era, I went to high school in Florida as a foreign exchange student. In order to attend a publically funded school, I had to show evidence of my vaccination status- no jab, no school.

The Florida state's view was quite simple, why should they support the education of children who risk spreading potentially fatal illnesses to other children? My GP in the UK was somewhat bemused at giving this spotty 18 year old his first measles jab.

Anyhow with the very real concern currently regarding rising rates of measles as a result of low vaccination rates, maybe we should consider some 'Florida' tactics? After all, an effective vaccination programme is totally reliant on a high pick-up rate, if the rate falls, and only 75% of UK children starting school have had both doses of MMR, there is a very real risk of a measles outbreak.

Indeed last year, one child has died as a result of measles in a measles outbreak in the North West.

There is overwhelming evidence that the MMR vaccine is safe, effective, and more likely to lead to better vaccination rates than giving single jabs. My question is - if we have overwhelming scientific evidence in support of MMR, why don't we insist that if you want to send your kids to a state school, the child is vaccinated?

No jab, no school.

You might think this is draconian, even impede your rights to say what you can and do with your child. Put simply why not?

We have laws that ban smoking in a workplace and force you to wear a seat-belt - all because there is clear evidence that such measures save lives, and there is clear evidence of rising measles rates because of the low vaccination rates. Indeed what right has anyone to bring their unvaccinated child to school and risk the health of others?

Frankly, if I had an infant at nursery who caught measles through an older unvaccinated child at the same nursery, I'd want to sue the parents.

Maybe you think this is a bit extreme, but given that 94% of over 400 doctors polled via Doctors.Net agrees with the statement "that the government should launch an awareness campaign to highlight the importance of the MMR jab”, maybe it is time to push effective public health measures like MMR more aggresively.

It is perhaps time we consider some draconian measures to put measles where it belongs- the medical history books.

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