Measles is on the rise in Europe. Over 21,000 Europeans were affected by measles in 2017, and there were 35 deaths. Most of these cases should have been prevented, and likely would have been if vaccination rates had been higher. No other vaccine-preventable disease causes as many deaths as measles. What’s particularly worrying is that the surge in cases in 2017 represents a four-fold increase on the year before.

Across the EU, governments are desperately trying to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated against common diseases such as measles. For example, France has made vaccinations compulsory from this year, while the Italian government has banned children from attending state schools if they haven’t been vaccinated.

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Manuel, who believes mandatory vaccination is the wrong approach (though, as a last resort, it might be necessary). He thinks governments should work to educate parents, and explain why leaving their children unvaccinated puts them at risk (as well as risking the health of others around them).

To get a response, we spoke to Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. Would he agree that education is a better approach than mandatory vaccination?

For another perspective, we also spoke to Piernicola Pedicini, an Italian MEP with the 5-Star Movement. He has previously made the case against compulsory vaccination. What would he say to Manuel?

On the other hand, we also had a comment from Corrado, who believes that leaving children unvaccinated represents a clear public health risk, and the state should not allow it to happen. He draws a parallel with driving without car insurance:

Image of a citizenWhen there is a right choice and a wrong choice, it can happen that the state just skips the information stage when the desired outcome would not change. Why should the state invest in information campaigns about the risk of owning a car without insurance, when the best alternative is to force every car owner to have one altogether, regardless of the driver knowing why?

Is he right? If unvaccinated children are a public health risk, why not make vaccination mandatory?

We put his comment to Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis for a reaction.

Finally, how would Piernicola Pedicini MEP respond?

We support the goal of achieving the highest possible immunisation rates, but we disagree on the most effective policy to achieve it. As said, we believe that politics should take responsibility and help build up a system of trust and confidence in the institutions. The compulsory vaccination approach was introduced more than 50 years ago to tackle infectious diseases.

Today we need an ‘active recommendation’ approach, that is to say a conscious exercise of free choice and valid consent towards vaccinations, in a system where physicians and health professionals play a crucial role between institutions and families.

Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence that mandatory vaccination is more effective than recommendation in increasing vaccine coverage. There are data and statistics on the related policies in EU Member states, or other countries outside Europe, which point to mandatory vaccinations not being decisive in determining childhood immunisation rates.

What’s the best way to get parents to vaccinate their kids? Is education is a better approach than mandatory vaccination? Or is compulsory vaccination the best solution, given that this is such a public health issue? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – CDC Global
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24 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Andre Delicata

    Vaccination should definitely be mandatory. As a new parent of a 7-week-old baby who is coincidentally scheduled for his first vaccination tomorrow, I am very much aware of how crucial herd immunity is. On a personal note, due to the vaccination scares in the 80s, I went unvaccinated for whooping cough and MMR and consequently, caught whooping cough at 3 and measles at 4. I do not wish the discomfort and pain I felt and the worry my parents experienced on anybody. So YES to compulsory vaccination.

    • avatar

      You do know that a certain percentage of vaccinated people get very sick and even die, you know this right?
      What do you think those vaccine warning insert papers are for, decoration?
      Plus if the Government can forcibly inject us where do you draw the line, maybe they will forcibly abort babies next to control the population, or force women to be impregnated to increase the population or force men to be sterilized etc.
      No Government should have the power to take a citizen and inject them by force. This is some totalitarian nightmare, and sure ”we mean well”, that is the statement of every Government good and bad, ” we mean well”, ”we only want to help”.

  2. avatar

    Pay them. What!?! Why not, it’s their kids, so if you think this is so damn important then pay them, I am serious. Let’s say USD equivalent $100 for all the vaccines. What is the problem, you don’t want to put your money where your mouth is, you all talk?
    Pay them, plain and simple end of story.

  3. avatar
    catherine benning

    What’s the best way to get parents to vaccinate their kids?

    I wrote a reply to this question here yesterday. I thought it was a good rounded answer to this most hidden fact. Clearly, what I wrote was seen as dangerous in some way as it was put in the sin bin. So, here is what I backed up my argument with.



    And this women explains really well.

  4. avatar

    Would say Both, this starts with compulsory

  5. avatar

    Education is part of the solution, probably the bigger part, but achieves it’s goal over long times.
    Meanwhile, compulsory vaccination is the way.

  6. avatar

    Not burying your head in the sand and denying the underlying problem would be a good start. The current measles outbreak as a source and every Nation in the EU and Brussels itself have acknowledge what it is but for pro migration reasons it is being ignored.

    • avatar

      Wtf one of the first things that immigrants do when they arrive is to vaccine their children. Anti-vaxes are usually pseudolibertarian right-wingers from uncultured backgrounds but where themselves vaccinated as children.

    • avatar

      Filippo Where have I said people should not vaccinate their children ? Your implicit bias has lead you to the wrong conclusion comrade.

  7. avatar

    I will also add not giving babies so many vaccines in one go. It is scary for the parent and scary for the child.

    • avatar

      It is hardly scary for the child. Also, parents should ask instead of getting scared.

    • avatar

      You don’t become autistic from vaccines… and it is not just a money saving technique. It is a timesaving one. Would you want to go with your child 5-6 times to get the vaccines? That would be just as *bad* as now.

      The temperature is to be expected. Vaccines don’t magically make someone immune, they simulate a disease and the body reacts on it. Thus becoming immune.

    • avatar

      I prefer more frequent and less vaccines like my son. My daughters experience was scarier for both of us when they gave her loads in one go. I want to believe autism is not from vaccines but I know people whose baby changed after the vaccine and were diagnosed autistic. So I have to be honest and say I am not sure on that one.

    • avatar

      Julia Hadjikyriacou the people you know whose babies appeared to change is nothing to do with the vaccine itself. It’s simply the time that the MMR vaccine is administered is at a stage in a baby’s development when autism first begins to show anyway.

    • avatar

      Vaccinations do not cause an autism

    • avatar

      I would rather my child get three shots at once than have to go back three separate times for one shot.

    • avatar

      Mine got 6 shots at once. It was disturbing to watch. and the wait to see my child recover and still have good health was even more freaky. New rules apparently. More like money saving measures.

  8. avatar

    The problem is another: wath kind of dangerous substance(Al,Hg, As ,PB ecc)are in the medium??Because laboratory official control random control don’t make-up ??

  9. avatar

    Simple, if you choose not to vaccinate your child you shouldn’t be able to benefit from the public health care or education system.

    • avatar

      Even if those people have paid for the public health care or education systems ?

    • avatar

      My taxes pay for many things I don’t benefit from.

  10. avatar

    Also: if it needs being done, it needs being done. Not vaccinating puts the child at unnecessary risk.

    • avatar

      Marcos García my daughter was screaming in pain after a series of vaccines in one go and suffered a temperature all night. It is traumatic and scary for both child and parent. The parent seeing the xhikd traumatised and in pain, then a temoerature then waiting to see if the child becomes autistic. I am sure giving so many vaccines in one go is a money saving technique. It is hardly in the best interest of the child or parent.

  11. avatar

    What about the recent study that blames parectamol…and I am more likely to believe that it is paracetamol given children to beat fever than actual vaccine… The study is not confirmed yet so it has to be looked at with caution but I am more likely to believe that than vaccination. My son was different when born, never settled, had problems feeding and I believe he was born autistic but I had a lot of horrible headaches pregnant so maybe that half parectamol that I used to take is to blame..

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