Helping parents choose vaccination for their children

One way could be to require parents to have a meeting with a medical professional, where parents learn about how herd immunity works, says one parent

I am not sure that making immunisations compulsory, especially for state school pupils, is the way to improve rates of vaccination (Vaccine take-up: Parents who defy medical advice, 23 October), but parents ought to be legally required to acknowledge the decision they are making on behalf of those who lack the capacity to decide for themselves.

One way could be to require parents to have a meeting with a medical professional, where parents learn about how herd immunity works with reference to local take-up and risks; each of the relevant illnesses and the likelihood of complications for children and vulnerable adults; and what conventional medicine might be required to treat their children in event of worst-case scenarios. Give them 30 minutes in the waiting room with a file full of pictures and case stories – then ask them to make their decision, with the need to sign a waiver if they still decide not to vaccinate. I wonder how many of these parents would refuse conventional, presumably “unnatural”, medicine when their child is seriously ill in hospital?

I now advise friends and family to ask for the chicken pox vaccination in certain cases after my child ended up in intensive care due to rare, but medically well recognised, complications following this common childhood illness. There are good reasons as to why children are not routinely vaccinated against chicken pox in the UK, but I would want no parent to go through what we did. My child recovered sufficiently to be discharged from the care of Great Ormond Street hospital after two years, but we still don’t know what the long-term effects of the sustained brain damage will be.

I am hoping it does not take large numbers of children dying, or being left with life-changing injuries, to raise vaccination levels.
Name and address supplied

Letters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
As we wait for a Covid-19 jab, don't forget other essential vaccines | Letter
Letter: From measles and mumps to whooping cough, vaccinations can only eradicate diseases if people have them, writes Prof Martin Marshall

Letters

26, Apr, 2020 @4:37 PM

Article image
Don’t blame parents for low vaccination take-up | Letter
Letter: As cases of measles continue to rise, access to health services is a greater problem than online conspiracy theories, writes Prof Roger Penn

Letters

08, Dec, 2019 @5:20 PM

Article image
Against compulsory MMR vaccination and for looking after new mothers | Letters
Letters: Prof Arne Akbar, president of the British Society for Immunology, says compulsory vaccination is a blunt tool which could increase health inequities and alienate parents. Plus Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard and others call for a funded postnatal medical appointment at six to eight weeks specifically to assess new mothers’ physical and mental health

Letters

13, Sep, 2019 @4:01 PM

Article image
Health visitors are crucial for families | Letters
Letters: Mental illness such as post-natal depression is helped by home visits from a specialist community public health nurse, writes Woody Caan

Letters

07, Oct, 2020 @4:13 PM

Article image
Children are at risk from game shot with lead | Letter
Letter: UK regulation requiring replacement of lead gunshot with non-toxic alternatives is long overdue, say Prof Debbie Pain, Prof Rhys Green and Dr Caroline Taylor

Letters

10, Aug, 2020 @4:36 PM

Article image
Helping mothers living apart from their children | Letters
Letters: The charity Matchmothers.org began after a letter to the Guardian in 1979, writes Rosalind Barton. Forty years on, it is still supporting mums separated from their children

Letters

21, Feb, 2019 @5:07 PM

Article image
Special needs children are being failed | Letters
Letters: Readers respond to the latest select committee report on families’ struggles to get educational support for their children

Letters

24, Oct, 2019 @4:59 PM

Article image
GCSEs: I’ll never forgive you, Michael Gove | Letters
Letters: Parents and teachers respond to the Guardian’s report detailing the mental stress suffered by pupils taking the new GCSEs

Letters

25, Jun, 2018 @5:17 PM

Article image
How can every mind matter in a broken mental health system? | Letters
Letters: Readers respond to the launch of the NHS Every Mind Matters campaign and share their thoughts on other mental health issues

Letters

09, Oct, 2019 @4:29 PM

Article image
Warmer words might help us to deal with the pain of miscarriage | Letters
Letters: Rosie Toothill, Mike Corcoran and Shirley Harrington respond to Katy Lindemann’s article about the grief of losing a baby being compounded by insensitive language

Letters

12, Oct, 2018 @3:45 PM