Response to research on compulsory vaccinations

RCPCH's immunisation expert Dr David Elliman says "compulsion may work in some countries, but it is not for us".

In response to a paper by researchers from the Bruno Kessler Foundation and Bocconi University in Italy, which suggested the current voluntary immunisation programmes in countries like the UK will not be enough to curb outbreaks in the coming decades, Dr David Elliman from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

The UK has not escaped the worrying global increase in measles cases. Clearly, the only way to counter this and prevent future deaths is to increase vaccine uptake. However, the conclusion drawn by Trentini and colleagues that the only way to achieve this is through a ‘No jab, No, school’ policy lacks evidence for the UK.

Only about 1-2% of UK parents refuse all immunisations.  A larger proportion may have concerns that are readily addressed by health care professionals, while a significant number still have problems accessing appropriate family friendly services. Introducing compulsory vaccination in this country might reduce the very high level of trust that people have in the NHS and prove counterproductive. It could even result in lower levels of vaccination.

Before we even consider going down this route, we should ensure that we have efficient appointments systems and reminders and adequate numbers of well-trained staff, with time to talk to parents in family friendly clinics.

Compulsion may work in some countries, but it is not for us.