In a recent court decision, Mrs Justice Theis has ordered that two children aged 15 and 11 should receive the MMR vaccination.  The children’s mothers opposed it, and the girls themselves said they did not wish to be vaccinated.

The girls were living with their mother following the parents separating in January 2011.  The father said he had become increasingly concerned about the serious consequences of the girls contracting measles, mumps and rubella.  He had become particularly concerned following the recent outbreak of measles in Wales.

The mother said that she was concerned about the side effects of the vaccination.  It is well know that in 1998 there as a fierce debate arising from an article published in the medical journal, The Lancet, which cast doubt on the vaccine’s safety and the risks said to be attached to it, especially in regard to the possibility of autism.  Since that time, again as is well known, the basis of the article has been discredited and indeed medical disciplinary proceedings undertaken against the author.  In the recent case, though, it would be appear that the mother continued to express concern that there were potential side effects.

However, there was also no doubt that the elder daughter objected to receiving the vaccine.  She was a vegan and her objection was based partly on the fact that the vaccine contained animal based ingredients.  It is no small matter to contradict at 15 year old, as most parents of them will agree, but nevertheless Mrs Justice Theis felt that it was right to do so in this case.

She said that it was in the girls’ best interests that they each receive a vaccination.  She was well aware it was against their wishes, but that was not the only factor, although it was an important factor.  However, the court had to consider the girls’ level of understanding of the issues involved and what factors had influenced their views.  She felt that there was not a balanced level of understanding by the girls of the issues involved and the focus had been on negative aspects “in a somewhat unfocussed way.”

The clear inference is that the girls had formed their views on an unbalanced presentation of the science.  A judge concluded that the health risk of getting any of the diseases is clear, they are serious diseases that could have long term health consequences.  Accordingly, she made an Order for the vaccinations to take place.

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