By: Katie Forster of The Independent
Parents in France will be legally obliged to vaccinate their children from 2018, the government has announced.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said it was “unacceptable” that children are “still dying of measles” in the country where some of the earliest vaccines were pioneered.
Three childhood vaccines, for diphtheria, tetanus and polio, are currently mandatory in France. Others, including those against hepatitis and whooping cough, are simply recommended.
Announcing the policy, Mr Philippe evoked the name of Louis Pasteur, the French biologist who made breakthroughs in disease research and developed the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax in the 19th century.
He said all the vaccines which are universally recommended by health bodies – 11 in total – would be compulsory.
The move follows a similar initiative in Italy, which recently banned non-vaccinated children from attending state schools.
The World Health Organisation has warned of major measles outbreaks spreading across Europe despite the availability of a safe, effective vaccine.
Anti-vaccine movements, whose followers are known as anti-vaxxers, are believed to have contributed to low rates of immunisation against the highly contagious disease in a number of countries.
A recent survey found more than three out of 10 French people don’t trust vaccines, with just 52 per cent of participants saying the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.
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