Should measles vaccinations be mandatory?

In view of the drastic rise in the number of measles cases, numerous European countries are discussing mandatory vaccination. As the WHO announced in January, cases of measles increased almost fivefold in 2017. Journalists take stock of the demands for compulsory vaccination.

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Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Protect the weakest

The freedom of some people can cost others their lives, Lidové noviny points out:

“No one in Europe can be forced to be vaccinated with reference to human rights. This means, however, that a minority is objectively harming the majority that wants to be vaccinated. The current situation in which vaccination is not mandatory will mean death for certain people. One in every thousand people infected with the measles virus dies. Mostly those with a weak immune system, the very young or the very old. But they count too. Will the freedom to decide whether or not to be vaccinated remain a holy cow until the number of fatalities grows?”

Berlingske (DK) /

The fight for common sense

The debate about vaccination has been poisoned by conspiracy theories, says Berlingske:

“When the State Serum Institute recently announced once more that there can be no correlation between vaccines against cervical cancer and autism, prominent Danish websites sowed doubts about the science behind this. ... There is nothing else we can do but fight for common sense to prevail. The politicians, media and authorities must do their bit. It's also good that Facebook has announced that the platform will stop posting ads that contain disinformation about vaccines. Up to now the social media have played a heinous role and given high priority to articles full of suspicion about vaccines rather than valuable information about vaccinations.”

Die Welt (DE) /

People don't have to be forced

Making vaccinations mandatory is not necessary to solve the problem of low vaccination coverage, Die Welt argues:

“Most of those who are not vaccinated are not people who have refused to be vaccinated but people who have been lazy about it or forgotten. If they were reminded more often - for instance by health insurance funds or their GPs - and didn't have to make a special appointment the situation would improve substantially. It's conceivable for example for children to be vaccinated in schools or at kindergartens and for adults to be vaccinated at their local health authority. By removing bureaucratic hurdles and building up a professional vaccination system we could very likely wipe out measles entirely. Without mandatory vaccinations or laws.”

Kurier (AT) /

Strict rules for hospitals

The numbers speak for themselves, the Kurier notes:

“People who play down the measles arguing that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger don't know or don't want to know the facts: In the EU, in 2017 alone 37 people died of measles (worldwide it was 160,000). One in five cases has to be treated in hospital - not to mention the (proven!) negative after-effects of having had measles. It's absurd when you consider that this is a disease that could have long been eradicated. It's high time we made vaccination compulsory - at least for hospital staff.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Doctors must regain their authority

After the threat of a measles outbreak led to the closure of the canteen in the Czech parliament, Lidové noviny hopes that politicians will now take action:

“All members of parliament are still fit and healthy. But they'll have to deal with the problem sooner or later. ... Vaccination has become a political bone of contention. The majority of the population see it as a sensible way to prevent the spread of diseases. But for a minority, vaccinations are dangerous and ineffective. Rational arguments seem to fall on deaf ears in this battle. But the mere fact that people travel abroad much more nowadays means that measles keeps being brought back home. The problem simply cannot be solved without vaccination. We have to think about why people have stopped listening to our doctors and how they might regain their authority.”