Doctors call for ban on children starting school if they haven't had their MMR vaccine

Senior GPs are calling for a policy change on unvaccinated children starting school [Photo: Getty]
Senior GPs are calling for a policy change on unvaccinated children starting school [Photo: Getty]

Senior GPs are calling for a policy change that would see the MMR jab be compulsory for children before they are allowed to start school.

In a letter to ministers, seen by The Guardian, doctors would like to see a ban on children starting primary school until they’ve had their MMR vaccine.

The call comes after the UK lost its measles-free status amid soaring rates of measles.

Four London GPs told Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson that a policy shift could help tackle “complacency” among parents.

They believe schools should ask all parents to prove their child has had their two recommended doses of the vaccine before they can attend.

The only exceptions would be for children whose parents have registered a conscientious objection to the MMR vaccine or those whose health means they cannot have it.

READ MORE: Should parents be forced to vaccinate their children?

“Schools need to check that all their pupils have been vaccinated. In other countries, certificates of vaccination are required prior to school entry,” the GPs say in their letter, according to The Guardian.

“Here in the UK we could mandate that all children need to be vaccinated by a health professional, allowing for exemptions for either conscientious objection or medical contraindication.”

The call comes as cases of measles are on the rise in the UK [Photo: Getty]
The call comes as cases of measles are on the rise in the UK [Photo: Getty]

Last month the UK lost its ‘measles-free’ status after it was revealed cases of measles and mumps had hit their highest level in a decade.

Back in April the Health Secretary hinted that children who have not been given the MMR vaccine could be banned from school.

Matt Hancock refused to “rule out” the possibility that children who have skipped their immunisations would be sent home from lessons.

Analysis by the children’s charity UNICEF had found that more than half a million children in the UK were at risk of contracting measles because they skipped their recommended vaccinations in the last eight years.

The Health Secretary claimed to be “particularly worried” about vaccination scare stories that are often fuelled on social media sites.

Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4 Today: “One of the things I am particularly worried about is the spread of anti-vaccination messages online.”

Matt Hancock leaves Downing Street.
Matt Hancock leaves Downing Street.

Experts also recently warned that children who catch measles are more vulnerable to other serious infections for the next two to three years.

Scientists believe the disease wipes out a child’s immunity to other illnesses.

The findings would help explain the mysterious large drops in mortality of up to 50% following the introduction of measles vaccinations, the researchers said.

READ MORE: Mum who refused immunisations overruled by court

If the UK did go ahead with a school ban on unvaccinated children, it wouldn’t be the first country to introduce the policy.

July saw Germany making measles vaccinations compulsory for children at all schools and kindergartens from next year amid concern about the number of cases of the infection in recent years.

In March Italian children were told not to turn up for school or nursery if they are not vaccinated.

Under a new law, children under six will be legally turned away from nursery. And while children of school age – which in Italy is six and above – cannot be turned away, schools will reserve the right to impose a fine of up to €500 (£425).

Also in March a New York county hit by a measles outbreak banned non-vaccinated minors from public places in a bid to prevent the once-eliminated disease from spreading.

And in Australia, the government clamped down on its “no jab, no pay” policy in July by issuing further fines for parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.