LABOUR and Scottish National Party MSPs are again at loggerheads – this time over the MMR vaccine.
Former Labour Health Minister Andy Kerr has criticised SNP Health Ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Shona Robison for refusing to apologise over what he described as “the cynical campaign the SNP ran in opposition to undermine the vaccination programme.”
But Strathaven-based MSP Linda Fabiani has countered by accusing Mr Kerr of “exploiting” the issue for “party political point-scoring”.
Labour has called on the Scottish Government to follow the example of the Department for Health in England by embarking on a catch-up campaign to ensure children who missed out on the vaccination can receive it.
East Kilbride MSP Mr Kerr told the News: “It is absolutely clear the SNP, and Nicola Sturgeon in particular, ran a cynical campaign which exploited the fears of parents and ultimately put children at risk by undermining faith in the MMR vaccine.
“Her actions, and those of other Nationalist MSPs like Shona Robison and Kenny MacAskill, were totally irresponsible and I am outraged by their refusal to apologise for acting in such an inappropriate way.
“Last week’s retraction in The Lancet was the final nail in the coffin for the discredited research linking MMR with autism and reflects the censuring by the General Medical Council of its main proponent, Dr Andrew Wakefield.
“I am also calling on the Scottish Government to immediately embark on a catch-up campaign to ensure children who missed out on the MMR jab are properly protected.”
Central List MSP Linda Fabiani said: “An issue as important as childhood vaccination is one on which responsible politicians should work together to maximise uptake and protect children’s health, not exploit for party political point-scoring.
“The Scottish Government is entirely committed to ensuring as many parents as possible protect their children in the safest way by ensuring their children receive the MMR vaccine. Vaccination rates in Scotland are very high. Child health is and will remain the absolute priority for the government and the Health Secretary in this matter.”