After saying those that peddle the anti-vaccination ‘have blood on their hands’, the Health Secertary Matt Hancock has said he is looking ‘at all options’ including compulsary immunisation.
From 2010 to 2017 more than half a million children in the UK were not vaccinated against measles.
As the movement of ‘vaccination deniers’ gains traction on social media, Mr Hancock has told the BBC he did not want to ‘reach the point’ of imposing compulsary jabs but would ‘rule nothing out’.
In an interview with The Times, Hancock stated the vaccination rate for measles in Britain is 91 per cent, which is below the 95 per cent required to protect those who cannot be immunised.
These people are either too young or have conditions which don’t allow them to have the jabs, for example cancer.
A report in The Times claimed almost 40,000 British parents had joined an online group that calls for children to be left unimmunised against potentially fatal diseases.
In England the proportion of children receiving both doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) jab by their fifth birthday has fallen to 87.2 per cent over the last four years.
The World Health Orgainzation (WHO) says the level necessary to protect a population should be 95 per cent.
Greater Manchester has seen a sharp increase in reported cases of measles, with Public Health England reporting 32 confirmed cases so far this year in March. 2018 saw three cases in the area, down from seven in 2017, the BBC reports.
Dr Kristina Poole from Public Health England North West said, ‘The majority of the cases are in unvaccinated children.’
In April, Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, highlighted the dangers not only parents but society faces as a result of the anti-vaxx movement on PoliticsHome.
The spread of this ‘anti vax disinformation’ on social media is pernicious and potentially fuels a public health crisis in the UK.
Today’s online harms white paper cites the spread of inaccurate anti vaccination messaging on social media as a risk to public health and a threat to our way of life. I agree. But while proposals for a Code of Conduct are welcome, they need to go further than just asking that fact checking services, promotion of authoritative news sources or making content less visible. We need the regulator to be sanctioning platforms that allow anti-vax propaganda to spread unchecked. I’m also calling on the NHS to promote messages outlining the importance of vaccinations on social media and the high risks of ignoring such advice.
Vaccinations have been one of the most important public health interventions of the last 70 years since the creation of the NHS. We can’t allow fake news and pernicious propaganda to undermine a medical advance that has helped save so many lives. This is about the health and wellbeing of our children. It would be shameful tragedy if we failed them by not acting.
Don’t be reckless. Vaccinate.
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Tim Horner is a sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated with a BA Journalism from University College Falmouth before most his colleagues were born. A previous editor of adult mags, he now enjoys bringing the tone down in the viral news sector.