How is denial of vaccine different from assault?

There is much concern with regard to the rights of children (GP, 13 June).

In the wider world, we now have children's commissioners, and child abuse is always topical in both the lay and technical press.

We do not permit parents to smack their children, and yet, with regard to the most dangerous, far reaching and potentially lethal child abuse, we respect the wishes of the parents.

Parents can deny their children childhood vaccines; a single parentally induced fracture, would result in criminal prosecution, but tetanus or diphtheria is OK.

As these vulnerable children age, at which point, if any, would our expert advise testing the capacity of the child, and how, or would she advise ignoring the issue?

Should a 10-year-old at risk of death from gardening be immunised against their parents' written unequivocal orders to the contrary, if that is their wish, and capacity has been established ?

Do we pick a time and tell these children of the appalling risks they run, and advise that their parents are the culprits, with all the potential for family break-up?

If we follow current practice, and bury our heads in the sand, will these children rightly accuse us of not acting in their interests at a later date?

Dr Tom Robinson, Sully, South Glamorgan.

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