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France plans to make 11 vaccinations compulsory for children

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France plans to make 11 vaccinations compulsory for children
Photo: Esben Klinker/ Depositphotos
11:56 CEST+02:00
France's new health minister wants to make 11 vaccinations compulsory for children rather than leave the decision in the hands of parents.

Currently only three child vaccinations are obligatory by law in France: diphtheria, tetanus and polio.

But new health minister Agnes Buzyn said this causes “a real public health problem”.

She wants to extend the number of mandatory vaccinations to 11 to include immunisations against conditions such as measles, hepatitis B, meningitis C, rubella, mumps and whooping cough.

At present these vaccinations are only recommended by the state and the decision whether or not to inoculate a child is left in the hands of the parents, who are often swayed by theories and scare stories about health risks of certain vaccines.

“This double system is unique to France,” the minister Buzyn told Le Parisien newspaper. “It poses a real public health problem,” adding that measles is coming back.

Since 2008 measles has caused the death of 10 children in France.

“We have the same problem with meningitis. It's not acceptable that a 15-year-old teenager could die just because they have not been vaccinated," the minister said.

The announcement comes a month after Italy introduced a new law that forces children to be vaccinated against 12 common illnesses before they can enroll in state schools.

If parents do not follow the rules they will be subject to fines.

Reacting to the controversial law Italian expert on infectious diseases Alberto Giubilini said the government was justified to coerce parents into vaccinating their children.

“The benefits of vaccination in terms of protection from infectious disease outweigh the costs and risks of vaccination,” he said. “For instance, the World Health Organisation estimates that between 2000 and 2015, measles vaccination prevented more than 20 million deaths.”

But the health minister's plan will no doubt not go down well with everyone.

"As soon as we talk about a vaccination obligation, it triggers a row," Professor Alain Fischer, president of a body that advises on vaccinations.

"Unfortunately there are no other solutions to combat the upsurge in childhood diseases. It is a short term evil for a long term good "he said.

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