There is growing vaccine hesitancy in Europe and people do not want to vaccinate themselves or their children, said Piotr Kramarz, Deputy Chief Scientist, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm recently.
India has been dealing with vaccine-hesitant parents for last few decades in order to deal with serious diseases such as polio. In February this year, in order to deal with such parents, Kerala introduced its draft medical policy that proposed a compulsory vaccination certification for any kid who is enrolling in primary school.
“In Europe, vaccine availability is quite good, but there has been growing vaccine hesitancy. People don’t want to vaccinate themselves and their children. So, we work a lot in developing programmes and materials to help healthcare workers communicate and convince the parents regarding vaccination…It’s a concern across all vaccines,” Kramarz said.
BMC Public Health – an open access public health journal – published a study in January stating that despite effective national immunisation programmes in Europe, some groups remain incompletely or un-vaccinated, with underserved minorities and certain religious or ideological groups repeatedly being involved in outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs).
Pasi Penttinen, Head of Disease Programme Influenza and other Respiratory Viruses, ECDC, said: “For a lot of childhood VPDs, the problem in Europe is that the parents, the community and the physicians, they don’t see these diseases anymore, so there is a lack of understanding about the consequences and seriousness of the disease, and therefore, it becomes the question of the vaccine itself having potential side effect, etc. You don’t see the immediate need to have that vaccine.” He added that some religious groups are also hesitant towards taking vaccines.
BMC Public Health study stated that in 2004, a rubella outbreak occurred within an under-vaccinated religious community in the Netherlands, which spread to Canada and led to cases of congenital rubella syndrome. “These outbreaks in under-vaccinated groups sometimes cause “spill over” disease in the general population as occurred during two measles outbreaks. One occurred in Germany in 2008, from the anthroposophic community to the general population who had vaccination coverage below the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended level,” the study stated.
“The second one, in the Netherlands in 1999–2000, started among unvaccinated members of Orthodox Protestant Reformed churches and spread to children of vaccinating parents, but whose children were susceptible as they were still too young to be vaccinated. Between May 2013 and February 2014, another measles outbreak was ongoing in the Netherlands among the same religious community with 2700 reported cases,” it added.