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Health visitor union rejects call for mandatory MMR jab

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A union representing health visitors has rejected a call from doctors’ leaders to make MMR immunisation mandatory for young children.

The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, which is part of Unite, has rejected suggestions by former British Medical Association chairman Sir Sandy Macara for children under five to be compulsorily immunised with MMR.

Cheryll Adams, Unite/CPHVA’s lead professional officer, strategy and 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,’ she said.

‘Educating parents, not coercion, is the best way forward,’ Ms Adams added, suggesting that there was a direct link between the declining MMR take-up rates and the decline in health visitor numbers over recent 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.’

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