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For the children

My new year's wish as a medical doctor -- but foremost as a parent and grandparent -- is to see our creches and schools as safe places for our children by making it mandatory for all children to be fully vaccinated before they can be enrolled, as is done in many other countries.

It is unbelievable to think that vaccination levels in Ireland vary from 77pc to 90pc, which means that in a class of 30 children, three to six might not be vaccinated and will pose a risk to the other children.

I will agree that some children can't, on medical grounds, be vaccinated, but these are few and far between and will not cause a problem if everybody else is vaccinated.

Unfortunately in Ireland, we have to rely on the common sense and goodwill of parents to have their children vaccinated.

The present-day vaccines are safe -- otherwise I would not have vaccinated my own family or my patients. I have no doubt the civil liberties groups will denounce the idea of mandatory vaccination but I'm a great believer in the rights and well-being of the majority taking precedence over that of the individual.

I'm not anti-child nor anti-parent but I'm certainly anti-preventable disease.

I feel that successive governments have been afraid to deal with this issue due to the civil liberties people and the possible need for a referendum. Surely the health and well-being of even one child is far more important than judges' pay?

Health Minister James Reilly, as a former GP, will have seen with his own eyes the ravages of measles, whooping cough, polio, TB and meningococcal meningitis/septicaemia.

He will be aware that we haven't reached "herd immunity" vaccination levels -- a level where the disease poses practically no risk, usually 90pc-plus. Mandatory vaccination will all but remove these diseases from this country.

This is your chance as a minister, Dr Reilly, and a doctor, to make this country, its schools and its creches safer places for our children.

Dr Aidan Hampson
Artane, Dublin 5

Irish Independent