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Diphtheria (Immunisation)

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 27 May 1943

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asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has considered the letter from John C. Dixon, 14, Johnson Street, Newton, near Barrow-in-Furness, asking him to investigate the case of his son, aged five years, who was inoculated against diphtheria at school without his patents consent and who has since had septic rashes all over his body and frequent screaming fits during the night; and whether he will reprimand those responsible for inoculating the boy without the consent of his father, who had a strong objection to this inoculation?

I understand that a form asking for Mr. Dixon's consent to the immunisation of his son was sent to him in March, 1942, and that he took no action upon it. The boy was immunised in March and April, 1942, but I am informed that no protest was made at the time by Mr. Dixon and that he did not seek medical advice about his son until nearly a year later. While I naturally regret any anxiety caused, I cannot accept all the implications in the hon. Member's Question.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what authority the doctor or nurse had to immunise the boy without the consent of the parents?

The hon. Member is perfectly correct. The consent of the parents ought to have been assured before immunisation was undertaken. I am drawing this matter to the attention of those concerned. I think this Question will have served that purpose.

Are not parents who refuse their consent to the immunisation of their children a danger to other parents?

I would like to say, in answer to that question, that I have taken the trouble myself to issue a special message drawing the importance of immunisation to the attention of parents, in view of the very serious results of diphtheria on children.

Are we to understand that immunisation is still voluntary in this country?