GPs across the UK should target the parents of children who they think have not received the MMR immunisations, Unite, the largest union in the country, has urged.
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, said that there needs to be a public awareness programme that informs parents – and not scares them.
Unite lead professional officer Obi Amadi said that the government and GPs had ‘a duty to explain’ the importance of the MMR vaccine which is designed to prevent measles, mumps and rubella.
Obi Amadi said: “What is happening with the measles outbreak in South Wales is the baleful legacy - 15 years on - of the discredited Andrew Wakefield who falsely made the claim linking the MMR vaccine and autism.
“GP practices should have the requirement to demonstrate they have invited – and reinvited all children - they know to come to the surgery to have the benefits of MMR explained to them. There is money available for this targeting.
“A public awareness campaign should be about informing - not scaring people; informed choice is what we are aiming for. Parents need to understand the health imperatives and why having these immunisations are essential.
“All health professionals should use every opportunity to engage with the families they encounter on this issue and be able to discuss the issue in full - so there needs to be an update on the statistics available, issues and perceived risks.
“We have supported successive governments on MMR. There needs to be investment in getting the message across to parents when their children are babies.
“This is a public health priority and so heightened awareness is required. Unite/CPHVA hopes that the new organisation, Public Health England will be addressing theses issues so that the body minimises risk of recurrence.
“It is important that 95 per cent of the population are immunised to create the so-called ‘herd immunity’.”
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.