Healthcare: On the Agenda - Call for MMR jab to be compulsory

In a nutshell

A former chairman of the British Medical Association has called for the controversial MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab to be made compulsory. Sir Sandy Macara said children should not be allowed to attend school unless they have been vaccinated.

What's the background?

Uptake of the MMR vaccine has been falling since the publication of research by Dr Andrew Wakefield in 1998 that linked it to a raised risk of autism. The research has since been discredited and there have been measles outbreaks across the country.

Why is he speaking out?

Sir Sandy has submitted a motion for debate at the annual BMA conference later this month. Speaking to the BBC, he said: 'Our attempts to persuade people have failed. The suggestion is that we ought to consider making a link that, in effect, would make it compulsory for children to be immunised if they are to receive the benefit of a free state education.' His calls for the jab to be made compulsory are at odds with the BMA's policy, which is currently opposed to mandatory immunisation.

Media coverage

The story was widely covered by the print and broadcast media. The Daily Mail ran the headline: 'Children who don't have MMR jab should be banned from school, says ex-BMA chief'. The story was also debated on BBC Breakfast.

PR support

The BMA's in-house press team has been handling calls from the media since the story broke last week and has been explaining the BMA's policy to journalists.

25% of under-fives have not had both MMR jabs

90% of children had the jab before the MMR scare.

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