A lesson from MMR: is choice of vaccine the missing link in promoting vaccine confidence through informed consent?

A lesson from MMR: is choice of vaccine the missing link in promoting vaccine confidence through informed consent?
Research Article
J O’Neill
Ethics & Behaviour, 20 Apr 2022
Abstract
A recent study suggests that vaccine hesitancy amongst key demographics – including females, younger individuals, and certain ethnic groups – could undermine the pursuit of herd immunity against COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. At the same time, the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JVCI) indicated that it will not facilitate the choice between available COVID-19 vaccines. This paper reflects upon lessons from the introduction of the UK’s combined Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine strategy of the 1980s when Member of Parliament Miss Julie Kirkbride argued that had parents been allowed to choose between vaccine variants, then the crisis of low herd immunity – and subsequent outbreaks – could have been avoided. This paper explores this argument, as applied to the COVID-19 vaccination strategy, by considering how three key elements of informed consent – disclosure of risk, benefit, and reasonable alternatives – may be employed to tackle vaccine hesitancy and build vaccine confidence.

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