Volume 553 Number 7688 pp249-366 18 January 2018
17 January 2018
Laws are not the only way to boost immunization
The French government must mitigate the risks in its legal imposition of vaccinations by promoting more coherent and proactive vaccine policies.
…A new French law requires that babies born after 1 January be vaccinated in their early years against 11 diseases. Previously, vaccines against only three of these — diptheria, tetanus and polio — were mandatory. The others were recommended, but the decision was left to parents. Now, children must also be vaccinated against Haemophilus influenzae B, hepatitis B, pertussis, pneumococcal disease, meningitis C, measles, mumps and rubella. Those who haven’t had all their immunizations, including booster shots, the government says, will be refused admission to nurseries, schools and camps in France.
This policy is dividing public-health scientists in the country. Many French general practitioners are among those who argue that the measure is authoritarian and could backfire, not least by alienating parents and increasing wariness of vaccines in a country where various health scandals (most infamously, HIV-infected blood transfusions given in the early 1980s to people with haemophilia) have spread mistrust of health authorities…