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- According to UK health secretary Matt Hancock, “anti-vaxxers”– adults who refuse to vaccinate their children – have “blood on their hands.”
- In an interview with The Times, Hancock said that “those who have promoted the anti-vaccination myth are morally reprehensible, deeply irresponsible.”
- Hancock also shared with BBC Radio 4’s Today program that while he doesn’t think it’s necessary yet, he refuses to rule out the possibility of compulsory vaccinations.
- Hancock’s interview comes on the heels of a recent UNICEF study that reported more than 21 million children worldwide, on average, missed their first measles vaccine dose between 2010 and 2017.
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For UK health secretary Matt Hancock, anti-vaxxers are no laughing matter.
In a recent interview with The Times, Hancock said “Those who have promoted the anti-vaccination myth are morally reprehensible, deeply irresponsible, and have blood on their hands.”
The health secretary’s vehement statement comes on the heels of a new UNICEF study that showed more than 500,000 children in the UK (and 2.5 million children in the US) went unvaccinated against measles between 2010 and 2017.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), measles cases rose by 300% in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same time period last year.
- Business Insider/Sam Shead
On the same day as his interview with The Times, Hancock also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, echoing his stance against anti-vaxxers.
He told the BBC, “I don’t want to have to reach the point of compulsory vaccination, but I will rule nothing out.”
Hancock asserted that vaccinations are “good for you, good for your child, good for your neighbour and your community.”
“If you don’t vaccinate your children it is not only your child that is at risk, it is also other children, including children who for medical reasons can’t be vaccinated,” he added.
Anti-vaxxers are a ‘public health threat’ according to the World Health Organization
The UK health secretary called out anti-vaxxers – parents who refuse to vaccinate their children because of concerns over the vaccines’ safety or potential links to autism – during his BBC radio interview: “Those people who campaign against vaccination are campaigning against science,” Hancock said. “The science is settled.”
According to the WHO, “vaccine hesitancy” is one of the top 10 threats to global health this year.
The anti-vaxx movement gained momentum in 1998 when the now-disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield falsely claimed in a discredited research paper that there was a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.
Recently, anti-vaxxers have taken to social media platforms to spread their messaging that vaccines are harmful for children.
A report from the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) showed 50% of UK parents with children under the age of 5 had seen had seen “negative messages” about vaccinations on social media. More than 25% of the 2,000 surveyed parents believe, wrongly, that a person can have “too many” vaccines.
In March, the American Medical Association (the largest professional group of doctors in the US), appealed to the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube in a letter voicing concern that users on their platforms were spreading fake information about childhood vaccines utilizing inaccurate videos, posts, and links targeted at parents with children.