Statement on compulsory vaccinations and widening access

30 Sep 2019
Statement on compulsory vaccinations and widening access

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation said:

“Everyone should be concerned about falling vaccination rates in the UK and anti-vaccine sentiment must be addressed. At the same time, it isn’t the only issue that can impact uptake rates and we urge the Secretary of State to look at this issue carefully in the round before taking major decisions about introduction of compulsory vaccination."

“System issues as well as anti-vaccine messages can be crucially important.  For example, in response to low uptake of a meningitis vaccine for teenagers, MRF campaigned successfully on issues such as switching on opportunistic alerts for GPs that flag eligible patients, correcting the wording in the GP contract to include all eligible age groups and we introduced our own eligibility checker to help people find out if they are entitled to the vaccine. These three measures combined helped increase uptake of meningitis vaccines when implemented."

"Compulsory vaccination could entrench or provoke resentment that was not already there towards vaccines. " - Vinny Smith, CEO, MRF.

“Picking off anti-vaccine messaging as an issue and jumping to compulsory vaccination as a potential solution could have unintended consequences.  Health service providers need to recognise that until a few years ago the UK had achieved good immunisation rates without compulsory vaccination and ask what’s changed. Yes, anti-vaccine messaging is more prominent. But so too is system confusion, reduced resourcing and misplaced internal communication for health providers.  Compulsory vaccination could entrench or provoke resentment that was not already there towards vaccines. Tying compulsory vaccination to school entry could mean that families delay vaccination until the child is school age, well beyond the peak period of risk for many of the vaccines in the programme including MenB."

“It is entirely right that the government takes falling vaccine uptake rates very seriously. It is equally important it considers all the factors influencing this into account when reaching its conclusions on what to do about it.”

MRF Evidence and Policy Manager (Prevention), Claire Wright, discusses the pros and cons of making vaccination compulsory in the fight against meningitis and septicaemia

We want a world that promises more for people and families at risk of meningitis and septicaemia, and for those already living with the after effects of the disease

There are safe and effective vaccines available that that protect against the most common causes of life-threatening bacterial meningitis and septicaemia
Media contact
Sophie Beyer - Media Relations Manager
Tel: 07875 498047
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