Health Visitors Reject Call For MMR To Be Made Compulsory
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA), has rejected the call by a former chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), Sir Sandy Macara for children under five to be compulsorily immunised with the MMR injections against measles, mumps and rubella.
Cheryll Adams, Unite's Lead Professional Officer, Strategy & Practice Development said: 'We believe that the NHS is about choice, therefore we think that Sir Sandy's MMR motion to be debated at this month's BMA conference would be incompatible with that principle.'
'Instead, Unite/CPHVA believes that employing more health visitors and community nurses would provide the enhanced coverage necessary by healthcare professionals to explain to parents that MMR is a vital defence against these diseases which can either kill or cause serious disability.'
'Educating parents, not coercion, is the best way forward.'
Cheryll Adams said that health visitors believed there was a direct link between the declining MMR take-up rates and the slimming down of the health visiting service by primary cares trusts (PCTs) over the last four years.
She said: 'The health visiting service is now so under-resourced that health visitors no longer automatically see families when the child is 8-to-12 months old, which is the best time to provide advice and information, so that parents can make an informed decision about the first MMR immunisation.'
At present, only 80% of children have had both the MMR immunisations needed to give full protection - it is only when that figure reaches 95% does the population as a whole achieve the 'herd immunity' necessary to keep these diseases at bay.
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