Andrew Potter on not taking the swine flu vaccine

Andrew PotterIncreasing numbers of clinical staff at the hospital where I work declined invitations to be vaccinated against pandemic “swine” influenza. I think this is a worrying trend for both public health reasons and for the doctor’s integrity as a medical practitioner. There have also been reports in the popular press of doctors refusing the jab. As more NHS doctors object to what they perceive as an untried and untested vaccination, does the NHS as an employer, or the GMC as a regulatory authority have any recourse against these doctors? The GMC’s good medical practice publication, paragraph 77 clearly states: “You should protect your patients, your colleagues and yourself by being immunised against common serious communicable diseases where vaccines are available” [1]. With the current situation of a new vaccination against an infectious disease which likely has yet to bear its full impact, we need improved definition of the terms “common” and “serious” to support doctors whom decide not to be vaccinated. I also believe the NHS, either locally or nationally, should provide guidance on the matter.


1. General Medical Council (2006) Good Medical Practice

Andrew Potter is a GP trainee having previously worked as a registrar in cardiology, gastroenterology, and acute medicine. I currently work in obstetrics and gynaecology at Bedford Hospital.