London (CNN)The UK's health secretary Matt Hancock said anti-vaccination campaigners were "morally reprehensible, deeply irresponsible" and had "blood on their hands," in an interview with The Times published Saturday.
Anti-vaxxers 'have blood on their hands,' says UK health secretary
His comments came days after a study by UNICEF, the United Nations' children's agency, found that measles deaths were up globally by 22% in 2017, and complacency and fear of vaccines were among the factors leading to less vaccinations.
Speaking the same day on BBC Radio 4's Today program, Hancock said the UK needed to "consider all options" to ensure more children were vaccinated, refusing to rule out the possibility of compulsory vaccination.
"I don't want to reach that point and I don't think we are near there," he said.
"If you don't vaccinate your child, it's not only your child that is at risk. It's also other children, including other children who, for medical reasons, can't be vaccinated," he continued.
"Vaccination is good for you, good for your child, and good for your neighbor and your community."
Hancock said that anti-vaccination activists were "campaigning against science," adding, "the science is settled."
More than 500,000 children in the UK did not receive the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, according to the UNICEF report.