Why France Plans to Make Vaccination Compulsory
France is following in the footsteps of Italy by making vaccination compulsory. This is due to the rising cases of measles, a situation that has been referred to by health officials as unacceptable. In January and February 2017, nearly 80 cases were reported. For this reason, the ministry of health has announced that from 2018, parents will have the legal obligation of ensuring that their children are vaccinated.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe echoed the sentiments of the health officials by declaring that it is shameful for children to succumb to measles in this day and age. He adds that the pioneering vaccines were advanced in France and therefore, the country shouldn’t be experiencing such cases. If the rule comes to fruition, children who are not vaccinated against measles will not be allowed to attend state schools.
Optional and Mandatory Vaccines
At the moment, 3 childhood vaccines for tetanus, polio, and diphtheria are mandatory in France. Besides these, vaccines for whooping cough and hepatitis are also recommended. While announcing the policy, the French Premier was quick to evoke Louis Pasteur’s name. He referred to the legendary French biologist as a pioneer in disease research because he was the brains behind the first vaccines for anthrax and anthrax during the 19th century.
If the policy gets implemented, it will be mandatory for French parents to vaccinate their children against 11 diseases. Already, the World Health Organization has issued a warning about a possible measles outbreak across Europe. This is ironic considering the availability of a safe and affordable measles vaccine. It has been reported that anti-vaccine lobby groups, whose supporters are popularly known as anti-vaxxers, could have played a role in the low vaccination rates.
A recent study indicates that a third of French citizens don’t trust vaccines. A paltry 52% of the respondents similarly believe that the benefits of vaccination dwarf its risks. Out of the 79 measles cases that were reported in France in January and February 2017, 50 were concentrated in the Lorraine region in north east France. This is according to a report by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Between 2008 and 2016, over 24,000 measles cases were reported in France. Of these, more than 1,500 had severe complications, while there were 10 deaths. The anti-vaxxers’ fear partially arises from a discredited research, which claimed that there is a link between measles vaccination and autism. Luckily, exhaustive research helped to disapprove the study and its findings.
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