Parents cannot stop children in state care having MMR vaccinations, judges rule
- Children in state care will now be given the MMR vaccine against parents wishes
- The MMR vaccine became controversial when a now discredited paper written by Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed there was a link with autism
- The paper was published in noted medical journal The Lancet in 1998
Social workers can order that children in state care have MMR vaccinations even if their parents object, appeal judges ruled yesterday.
They said vaccination is in the child’s interests, and parents of youngsters in care cannot stop the single jab inoculation against measles, mumps and rubella no matter how strong their views.
The panel of three judges’ ruling does not affect the rights of mothers and fathers in general to refuse immunisation.
But it sends a signal the courts regard parents who oppose MMR as standing against what is good for their children.
Social workers can order that children in state care have MMR vaccinations even if their parents object, appeal judges ruled
Lady Justice King said: ‘Although vaccinations are not compulsory, the scientific evidence now clearly establishes that it is in the best medical interests of children to be vaccinated… unless there is a specific contraindication.’
The Appeal Court ruling overturns earlier cases which said social workers have to go to court to get permission to immunise children among the 70,000 in state care.
The MMR vaccine has been fiercely debated since 1998 when a paper written by Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed there was a link with autism.
This was subsequently discredited and Dr Wakefield, who failed to disclose conflicts of interest, was struck off.
Yesterday’s test case revolved around a year-old baby who is one of a number of siblings removed from their parents.
The infant is now in foster care under the supervision of social workers from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
However, the parents opposed vaccination for their children.
The court ruling against them comes as MMR vaccinations have fallen by a quarter during lockdown.
The Appeal Court ruling overturns earlier cases which said social workers have to go to court to get permission to immunise children among the 70,000 in state care
Uptake in 2019 was already at a seven-year low, driven by harmful anti-vaxx messages distributed online, on top of busy parents struggling to get to clinics.
The Daily Mail has launched a campaign to end ignorance over the jab and reverse falling rates of immunisation.