GP: Parents who don't vaccinate their children 'should have child benefit halved'
Parents who don't vaccinate their children should have their child benefits halved, according to a leading Irish doctor.
Dr Ruairi Hanley said that the initiative should be put in place to encourage parents to give their children access to life-saving vaccines.
Less than half of adolescent girls received the HPV vaccine series last September, which Dr Hanley says has the potential to save lives in the future.
"Barring exceptional circumstances, any parent who fails to complete the childhood immunisation schedule loses 50 per cent of their children’s allowance payment until the child reaches the age of 18. Overnight, this problem would be solved," Dr Hanley wrote in the Irish Medical Times.
Last month, the president of the Irish Medical Organisation said that "fake news" was playing a role in declining vaccine uptake in Ireland.
She expressed her concern at declining take up rates for vaccines in Ireland.
Dr Ann Hogan expressed deep concern at the impact of social media campaigns and fake news about 'non-existent' risks from vaccinations.
“Uptake rates for the HPV vaccine amongst young girls are declining to a worrying extent on the back of fake news stories about non-existent risks from vaccinations.
"As a result, we are putting the future health of young women at risk of cervical cancer and other ailments.”
- Read More: 'Fake news' behind declining vaccine uptake in Ireland, IMO president warns
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The uptake of the MMR vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella has recovered in recent years and now stands at around 91.3pc nationally.
The vaccine was at the centre of an unfounded scare in the late 1990s when it was wrongly linked to autism. Figures show, however, that uptake is as high as around 97.6pc in the south east.
However, there remains pockets of deprived areas where the rate of vaccination is lower.
In recent years a number of catch-up campaigns have had to be rolled out to administer it to teenagers who missed out on the protection as infants.
Measles remains a highly infectious viral illness that can cause serious complications.
Anyone can get measles if un-vaccinated or they haven't had it before, although it's most common in young children. The infection clears in around seven to 10 days.