Sunday 20 October 2019

Harris considers legal move to make vaccination mandatory for children

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Health Minister Simon Harris has said it is "irresponsible" to send unvaccinated children to school and he is seeking the advice of the attorney general on the issue of a mandatory programme of immunisation.

Mr Harris also said it is time politicians were "called out" on whether or not they support vaccination programmes.

He intends to write to all TDs and senators next week seeking a public commitment that they support childhood immunisation and the HPV vaccine for girls and boys.

It comes amid growing rates of diseases like measles around the world.

Mr Harris previously said he "instinctively" agrees with the suggestion unvaccinated children should be excluded from schools or crèches. This has happened in New York and Italy.

At the opening of a new primary care centre in Dublin, Mr Harris said he has written to Attorney General Séamus Woulfe to formally seek his legal advice on the issue of vaccination: "We obviously have a written Constitution and we need to take legal advice in relation to what we can and can't do legislatively in this country.

"We need to form an alliance of healthcare professionals and policy makers to push back against the absolute nonsense that is put out by some, often on social media in relation to vaccination.

"Vaccinations work but we're seeing the impact of the scaremongering in terms of the rates, not just in this country but in international reports.

"It's time we actually called out our politicians on this question. I want to know does every politician in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann support the childhood immunisation programme and support the HPV vaccine."

Irish Independent

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