Nursery settings have doubts over scheme to promote vaccinations to parents

Catherine Gaunt
Monday, December 12, 2011

In our last issue, Nursery World reported on a scheme in Brent, believed to be the first in the country, which will pay early years settings small grants to boost vaccination rates of pre-school children.

We asked you to send in your views about whether nurseries should promote vaccinations and received a range of responses (see below).

Last week, the World Health Organisation issued a warning that European countries needed to take action, in the wake of 26,000 cases of measles between January and October this year. In response, France has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the need for the MMR vaccination.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said, 'The increase in measles in European countries reveals a serious challenge to achieving the regional measles elimination goal by 2015. Every country in Europe must take the opportunity to raise coverage among susceptible populations.'

The National Day Nurseries Association said that it supports vaccination, but that it is also important for nurseries to respect parents' views.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the NDNA, said, 'We support the Government policy of vaccination and believe that nurseries should ensure parents are signposted to appropriate information about the benefits of immunisation to help keep children healthy. However, it is important for nurseries to respect parental choice and think about any potential ethical issues before getting involved in a scheme such as this. While it is positive to remind parents of the benefits vaccination brings, questions may be raised about the grants and how these will be paid. There may also be issues with nursery workers taking on a health advisory role without having the necessary in-depth knowledge and experience.'

WHAT READERS SAID

No, nurseries should not encourage vaccinations. It is a parent's decision

Charlotte, Oxford

Any encouragement is great in my book. We need to protect all of our children.

Rebecca

Absolutely not. As nursery settings we are often in a position of trust and many parents will take action on the guidance that we give them. All parents need to investigate for themselves the pros and cons of vaccination, speak to their health visitors and make their own choice.

We are a Brent-based nursery who have been approached about the scheme and have decided not to take part. We, as a setting, have a role to play but I do not believe that getting into the NHS area is something that we have the time or expertise to carry out correctly.

V Moxam, centre manager/director of Hopscotch Under Fives

This is not nurseries' role and not their expertise. Many ask for the vaccine status as part of their record keeping, but as Nicole Kennedy says in your article, most non-vaccinating parents are highly educated and informed and the relationship between nursery and home may be jeopardised.

Some parents have children who have been adversely affected by vaccines and have decided or been medically advised not to vaccinate further and so what benefit is there in paying a nursery to talk to them.'

Anna Watson

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