Every transferable disease or illness comes with a vaccination to prevent its spread. With this in mind, it is alarming that the rate of children being vaccinated is decreasing year by year. According to the NHS Digital, 90.3% of children were vaccinated in the year 2018-2019, 1.1% less than the year previously. Recent epidemics beg the question: what prevents children from being vaccinated in the UK? How can this problem be tackled?
The growing vaccination controversy in the UK is surrounded by an element of ignorance, suggesting a need for government intervention. The UK lost its ‘measles free’ status in early 2019, which would suggest that vaccination should no longer be a matter of parental choice, but rather a mandatory action to prevent the introduction of any previously removed diseases in the UK.
Most of the changing attitudes toward vaccinations originate from the growth of the ‘Anti–Vaxx’ movement. This medical misconception is leading thousands of campaigners around the UK to advocate abstaining from vaccinating children. Health Minister Matt Hancock is quickly attempting to stamp out the voice of this movement by threatening ‘bold action’, suggesting that ‘anti-vaxx’ campaigns on social media should fall under the strict content rules that posts about suicide, self-harm, and terrorism also come under. However, is action through social media considered enough to tackle the problem? With great national health risks comes the need for radical action: attitudes towards vaccinations need to change, perhaps starting with parents who, out of fear and potential lack of awareness, are questioning the safety of vaccinations.
Perhaps this issue needs to be approached with the intention to keep all members of society safe and not just the individual. Vaccinations are designed to serve the greater good of humanity which will only be successful once administered to the vast majority. When comparing the dropping rates of vaccinated children in the UK (an ever-growing and privileged first world country) compared to the restricted access that underdeveloped countries have to vaccinations, it seems unjustifiable that children aren’t being vaccinated when, under the NHS, it is freely accessible. Therefore, not only is it essential that Matt Hancock takes action to strive to make vaccinations a national necessity, but that UK residents understand the safety of these vaccinations and that action is taken before its too late. Ignorance towards the benefits of vaccinations can only lead to late and ineffective action in the face of another epidemic.
Image: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (via Google Images).