Eradicated diseases will flood Europe again? Should EU enforce new vaccination policy?

World Health Organisation, in the newest report on the vaccine-preventable diseases, exhorts all the countries to immediately implement actions aimed to stem the measles spread. Also, the European Commission has expressed a concern caused by the measles outbreak in Europe – according to the WHO data, during the first six months of 2018 more than 41,000 people had been reported infected, 37 people died. 86% of people, who get ill weren’t vaccinated. The number of people infected by measles growths yearly over the recent years: in 2016 in Europe 5,273 cases were reported, in 2017 the number increased more than four times, reaching the level of 23 927.

World Health Organisation says that low vaccination rates are to blame. According to the European Committee spokesperson, anti-vaccination trends may damage herd immunity of population and cause the flood of diseases, which have been considered eradicated for decades. The Commission is making efforts to stand up against non-vaccination trends. In its opinion, vaccination is the most powerful and economically effective means of public health and there is no rational reason to give up on it.

In the meantime the growing group of people refuses to vaccinate their children, fearing Vaccine Injury or believing that vaccines contain mercury, rat poison and may cause diseases such an autism. They are appealing to their (as parents or legal caretakers) right to make decisions about their children. The herd immunity has its minimal level – around 95%. If more than 5% people are not immune to disease, it becomes a public health thrat.

Is the right to decide about one’s child life and future the superior one, which shouldn’t be compromised for the sake of society, or there are some strong conditions, on which the authorities may establish the obligation to vaccine all children in the particular population?

Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the analogical document to the Human Rights Declaration, gives children a right to be treated under the consideration of their best interest. Same time, physicians are legally obliged to act according to the highest standard and the newest medical knowledge. The fact that the population is threatened by those, who are not immune, makes vaccination the public health issue, not the individual decision of a parent. One may say that if there is a law allowing a forced quarantine, why not to set the law, which will, according to the best medical knowledge, allow actions aimed to prevent the spread of a disease?

It should be noticed that in every population there are critical areas, where special means might be necessary. To make the population protection program complete, it would be also reasonable to include people, who have no access to immunization clinics. To use an example of Greek Roma community, which was a hotbed of measles in 2016, several people in this community died of the disease. According to the European Commission, there is an average association between the socio-economic group of the individuals surveyed across EU member states. Nevertheless, the marginalized communities, such as Roma, have no opportunity to, firstly, learn about vaccination programmes, secondly, take part in it. To cover such cases, Vaccines Europe created a recommendation list to expand the access to vaccination. For the full text, please go here.