Featured Journal Content
18 January 2018
Vaccine mandates in France will save lives
by Stanley A. Plotkin, Paul Offit, Pierre Bégué
In their Letter “France’s risky vaccine mandates” (27 October 2017, p. 458), J. K. Ward et al. question the adoption of mandatory vaccination in France. Their prediction that such a step will encourage resistance to vaccination is unsupported by the facts and could prolong a dangerous situation in which French citizens have the right to allow their children to catch and transmit potentially fatal infections.
The French recommendation—which has now gone into effect (1)—was the product of two juries composed of both medical professionals and lay citizens (2), suggesting that Ward et al.’s concerns about acceptance by doctors and the public are unfounded. Moreover, evidence shows that mandates are effective. In California, immunization rates increased after so-called “philosophical exemptions” were eliminated (3).
Vaccine-hesitancy in French physicians has been found to be only moderate in prevalence (4). Even one vaccine-hesitant doctor is too many, but Ward et al. do not offer a solution to the problem, such as better education by medical schools. Furthermore, a reference cited by Ward et al. does not, as they claim, show that mandating vaccines increases antivaccinationism, but rather that citing dangers of diseases is more effective than arguing for safety of vaccination (5).
Ward et al.’s reasoning could be extrapolated to argue against mandating car seats for young children. Like car seats, vaccination mandates will likely save lives.
.1. Association Française de Pédiatrie Ambulatoire, Obligation Vaccinale: Ce Qu’il Faut Savoir (2018); https://afpa.org/obligation-vaccinale/ [in French].
.2. Concertation Citoyenne sur la Vaccination, “Rapport sur la Vaccination” (2016); http://concertationvaccination.fr/la-restitution/.
.3. L. Sun, “California vaccination rate hits new high after tougher immunization law,” Washington Post (2017).
.4. P. Verger et al., Euro Surveill. 27, 30406 (2016).
.5. Z. Horne et al, ., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112, 10321 (2015).