Should Childhood Vaccination be Compulsory in the UK?

Abstract

Childhood vaccination is not compulsory in the UK, yet levels of immunisation are generally high. However, recent concern over vaccine safety has lead to undervaccination and an increase in rates of preventable infectious diseases. Compelling parents to vaccinate their children against their will may be acceptable in significant disease outbreaks, but this is not currently ethically justified, due to overall low disease rates in the UK. It is a reasonable argument that all children should be vaccinated for the protection of society; however, vaccination policies outside the UK demonstrate that compulsion does not guarantee high rates of immunisation, and that education and engagement can be highly successful. Most parents in the UK do vaccinate their children, and those who choose not to often have a disproportionate fear of causing harm. A policy of targeted education and support is likely to enhance public trust, as well as be more successful and economical than coercion.

Keywords

education, immunisation, vaccination

How to Cite

Fine-Goulden, M., (2010) “Should Childhood Vaccination be Compulsory in the UK?”, Opticon1826 8.

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Authors

Miriam Fine-Goulden (UCL)

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