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BMA Conference Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
MMR 'should be compulsory'
Uptake of MMR has fallen
Doctors are to consider whether parents should be forced to have their children vaccinated against mumps, measles and rubella.

The move was proposed at the British Medical Association's annual meeting in Harrogate on Wednesday.

Officials will now draw up a report on the advantages and disadvantages of mandatory immunisations and vaccinations.


It is wrong for parents not to immunise their children

Professor John O'Leary, Trinity College Dublin
Doctors had called for compulsory immunisation unless there are clear medical reasons against it.

It follows concern about falling uptake of MMR and a recent rise in measles cases.

Safety fears

Many parents have refused to allow their children to be given the three-in-one vaccine after a study suggested it may be linked to autism.

Statistics from the Public Health Laboratory Service, published last month, show just 70% of 16 month-olds received MMR vaccinations in March - down 6% since the end of last year and well below the government's target of 95%.

Some doctors believe the UK should follow the example of other countries by making MMR vaccination compulsory.

Mayor under attack

Doctors at the conference criticised comments by London Mayor Ken Livingstone earlier this week advising parents against allowing their child to have the triple vaccine.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone
Mr Livingstone was criticised by doctors
BMA chairman Dr Ian Bogle said: "I don't tell him how to run London and he should certainly not advise and confuse parents in this way."

He added: "He will have done irreparable damage, damage that takes a long time to put right."

The comments come just hours after one of the key researchers in the MMR safety debate issued a statement saying the triple vaccine is safe.

Professor John O'Leary, of Trinity College Dublin, has investigated studies suggesting a link between the vaccine and autism.

He has been widely reported as being against the three-in-one vaccine.

But in a statement, he denied his studies ever suggested MMR was unsafe.

"This research in no way establishes any link between the MMR vaccine and autism," he said.

"We advocate the use of MMR to protect children from measles, mumps and rubella."

He added: "It is wrong for parents not to immunise their children."

'No link'

Dr Simon Fradd, of the BMA, welcomed the statement.

"It means there is no link between Crohn's, autism and the MMR vaccine.

"It means we needn't put children at risk. Parents can now with confidence have their children immunised against these dreadful diseases."

Dr Bogle added: "The scientific evidence shows that MMR is the way forward to give maximum protection to children in this country."

Earlier this week, doctors attending the conference called for the payments they receive for vaccinating children against mumps, measles and rubella to be scrapped.

They said the payments meant many parents did not trust them to give impartial advice on the safety of the vaccine.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Gill Higgins
"It would be ironic if the government supported this idea given its recent emphasis on patient choice"
Full coverage of the BMA conference 2002

Day Three

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Day one

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TALKING POINT
 VOTE RESULTS
Should MMR be compulsory?

Yes
 42.95% 

No
 57.05% 

2773 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

12 Jun 02 | Health
16 May 02 | Health
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