Former The Apprentice candidate turned columnist and public speaker Katie Hopkins has engaged in a Twitter war with NHS staff over the debate surrounding flu vaccinations for children.
Tense words have been exchanged on the social media site between mother-of-three Katie and an account called NHS Million, which although an unofficial account, is run by NHS staff. The public disagreement began after Katie published an opinion piece on the Daily Mail titled: ‘Why I won’t let doctors give my 8-year-old son Max the flu vaccine at school’.
In the article, Katie explained that she felt giving her ‘fit and healthy’ son a vaccination ‘when there is nothing wrong’ is a ‘strange idea’ and so she refused to give her permission for his school to vaccinate him.
However, Katie also stated in the article that she is definitely not ‘anti-vaccine’.
‘My three children are all up-to-date with all their jabs. I could not be more grateful to the NHS for the HPV vaccinations to protect both my daughters from cervical cancer,’ she confirmed.
After receiving backlash on social media for the article, during which she was called ‘ignorant’ and ‘selfish’, the TV personality retorted via Twitter saying: ‘I am selfish. I would not give my son a flu jab for the benefit of the herd. He is not an animal. I am not a sheep.’
In response to Katie’s defiance, the NHS Million account simply wrote: ‘Don’t be like Katie Hopkins. Please make sure your family is protected.’
The reaction by NHS staff to her opinion caused Katie to respond again, stating that the tweet was a prime example of the pressure placed upon parents to vaccinate their children.
‘This is the pressure on parents to conform to state flu-vaccine. Conform to unnecessary meds or you are a bad parent,’ she tweeted.
Sharing an official NHS video, NHS Million first tweeted: ‘Children aged 2 or 3 can get the free flu nasal spray from their GP’, before once again hitting back at Katie in their next tweet.
‘Dear parents, please make the right choice for you based on all the evidence, rather than the wailings of an unqualified attention-seeker,’ said the account.
The debate surrounding flu vaccinations for children is a polarising one. In 2012, when the news broke that all children from the age of two to 17 were advised to have an annual flu vaccination, the NHS stated that ‘as with all vaccinations, flu jabs are optional but strongly recommended.’
Their advice was based on findings released by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which said that there could be 2,000 fewer deaths from flu each year if just 30% of children had a flu jab.
The flu vaccine is a single nasal spray squirted up each nostril of the child, providing a needle-free vaccine that the NHS say is ‘quick’ and ‘painless’.
We want to know what you think! Would you vaccinate your child? Perhaps you already have? Tell us your thoughts on the children’s flu vaccine debate in the comment box below.