Unvaccinated children 'could be banned from UK schools'

The Health Secretary has hinted that unvaccinated children could be banned from school [Photo: Getty]

Children who have not been given the MMR vaccine could be banned from school, the Health Secretary has hinted.

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

His warning comes as it was revealed yesterday that over half a million children have not been vaccinated against the potentially deadly measles.

Analysis by the children’s charity Unicef found that the UK is among the worst high-income countries for uptake of the jab, with a total of 527,000 put at risk of infection over the past 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 the BBC Radio 4 today programme: “One of the things I am particularly worried about is the spread of anti-vaccination messages online.

READ MORE: Anti-vaccination advert banned, after warning parents vaccines “can kill”

He plans to meet executives from the social media networks to discuss ways to “take down lies that are promoted on social media about the impact of vaccination.”

“Vaccination is safe, it’s very, very important for the public health – for everybody’s health – and we’re going to tackle it,” he added.

Asked on Talk Radio if children should be prevented from attending school if they are not vaccinated, he said: “I wouldn’t rule out anything, but I don’t think we’re there yet.”

“In America they tried to do this and then the courts stopped them so it can be complicated, but really it’s people’s responsibility as a parent to do the right thing, it’s the right thing for their own children as well as of course the right thing for the community that everybody lives in,” he continued.

But others disputed whether the banning of unvaccinated children from school was viable.

A Department for Education spokesperson told Telegraph that current guidance would likely not allow the move to go ahead.

“We ask schools to check what immunisations a child has had when they join a school but our guidance clearly states that schools cannot refuse admission or exclude a pupil because they have not been immunised,” said the spokesperson.

The Unicef figures reveal that vaccination coverage among children reaching their second birthday in England is now 91 per cent, with just 87 per cent receiving the second dose by their fifth birthday.

This falls below the 95 per cent coverage experts believe is necessary to achieve “herd-immunity”, where outbreaks are effectively unable to spread.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens described the vaccination drop as a “growing public health time-bomb” calling out those who spread “myths” about vaccines on social media. 

“With measles cases almost quadrupled in England in just one year, it is grossly irresponsible for anybody to spread scare stories about vaccines, and social media firms should have a zero tolerance approach towards this dangerous content,” he said.

READ MORE: Woman who developed life changing condition due to vaccine is still pro vaccinations

Could British pupils be banned from school if they skip their vaccinations? [Photo: Getty]

The UK wouldn’t be the first country to take action on unvaccinated children if they do issue a ban on unvaccinated children in schools.

Last month 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.

Meanwhile over in Australia, the Government has clamped down on its ‘no jab, no pay’ policy by issuing further fines for parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

Back in 2016, the revolutionary initiative withheld end of year tax benefits from families which refused to vaccinate their children.

But in a bid to crack down on even further, stricter sanctions have now been introduced which mean citizens who refuse to keep up to date with immunisations face losing $28 (approximately £16) from their tax benefits every two weeks.

Back in 2017 a vegan mother was ordered to give her sons routine vaccinations after the High Court overruled her objections.

The mum-of-two, who cannot be named, is so opposed to giving her children everyday medicines that she refuses to even give her children Calpol when they are poorly.

Having objected to giving her sons’ routine vaccinations, the mum was told by a High Court judge that she must comply with an order from the Court of Protection to have them vaccinated.