Sending child to school without vaccination ‘reprehensible’, says Harris

Minister says doctors should help in fight against pseudoscience that was costing lives

The Minister for Health said  parents who did not have their children vaccinated, were not just making a decision in relation to their own child but one which could impact on others. Photograph:  George Frey/Getty Images

The Minister for Health said parents who did not have their children vaccinated, were not just making a decision in relation to their own child but one which could impact on others. Photograph: George Frey/Getty Images

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris has urged doctors to “get on the pitch”, and help him to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated in the face of pseudoscience which was costing lives.

He said doctors needed to be involved in tackling “vaccine hesitancy”.

Mr Harris said if doctors did not get more involved it would it leave open to those who peddled pseudoscience, misinformation and disinformation at the cost of people’s lives.

The Minister said the overwhelming amount of parents in Ireland had their children vaccinated.

“We also need to be clear if you have a young baby and that baby is too young to receive their vaccination, that young baby is at risk if there is another, older child who has not received their vaccination.”

He said parents who did not have their children vaccinated, were not just making a decision in relation to their own child but one which could impact on others.

“It is absolutely irresponsible and reprehensible to send your child without a vaccination to a school or creche where they could spread diseases.”

He said he was grappling with the question of how to deal with that issue.

The Minister said he had asked the Attorney General to look at the constitutional position and to advise if there were any legislative solutions.

He said he wanted the Oireachtas to speak with one voice on the issue and to establish an alliance of health professionals.

Mr Harris said he would report back to Cabinet colleagues on the issue of mandatory vaccination when he had received the Attorney General’s advice.

However the Minister ruled out imposing financial sanctions on parents who did not get their children vaccinated if mandatory vaccination was not permitted on constitutional grounds.