GPs ban frightened parents who refuse triple baby jabs


DOCTORS are striking off their lists parents who choose not to have their
children inoculated with the triple measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)

GPs receive an annual bonus of more than pounds 2,500 if they inoculate 90
per cent of two-year-olds on their lists.{QQ}

Jabs, a group acting for more than 1,000 parents who believe their children
were damaged by the vaccine, says the bonus system is unethical and
restricts parent choice.{QQ}

The Government has banned a Swiss drugs company from importing single-dose
measles and mumps vaccines, despite a growing demand from UK parents.{QQ}

The Department of Health insists MMR is perfectly safe, and has warned of
the dangers of not inoculating children against the three diseases in one
go. But an increasing number of families are deciding not to have the triple
inoculation after a report 18 months ago suggested it was linked to autism
and Crohn's disease, a rare bowel disorder.{QQ}

Jackie Fletcher, who founded Jabs after her son suffered brain damage
following a triple vaccination, said she had a growing number of complaints
from parents who have been struck off.{QQ}

She said: `It is ethically wrong for doctors to strike parents off when all
they want is the best for their children. The fact they get bonuses must
question the integrity of their decision. If they get extra money for
vaccinating children, they should be paid for all vaccinations, including
single jabs.'{QQ}

Debra King, a mother from Brighton who did not want her 17-month- old son to
have the triple jab, said she was told to find another GP.{QQ}

She said: `I was disgusted. The receptionist told me that I had to go to
someone else because otherwise the doctor would miss out on his bonus. Why
should we be penalised for simply wanting a choice?'{QQ}

GP Martin Knott, who runs the surgery, declined to comment.{QQ}

Niki Green, a mother of three in south London who has decided not to have
her children vaccinated, said she received `a very abrupt and insensitive
phone call from my doctor's surgery saying I would no longer be

She said: `I don't accept that I or my children should be treated
differently because of my choice. Is this ethical? After all, a doctor
shouldn't criticise other decisions such as abortion or drug misuse.'{QQ}

A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association said the bonuses were used
to motivate doctors to ensure local communities were properly inoculated.
She said: `While we would strongly advise all parents to give their children
the MMR vaccine, we would not support any GP who strikes a patient off.'{QQ}

Public health officials have warned that the growing number of children not
being given the triple vaccine could lead to a new measles epidemic by 2002.
Only 87 per cent of babies are receiving the triple vaccine, compared with
the 95 per cent level for safe immunity levels.{QQ}

Some families are travelling overseas to have their children inoculated. One
Paris hospital has two visits a week from British parents. Single vaccines
are still available in France. {QQ}

Caption: article-29mmr

Copyright Guardian Newspapers, Limited Aug 29, 1999