French parents will have no choice in whether or not to vaccinate their children beginning in 2018, the country announced this week.
France’s new prime minister, Édouard Philippe, said that vaccines, which are unanimously recommended by doctors and health authorities, will be mandatory, according to Newsweek. Vaccines for tetanus, poliomyelitis, and diphtheria are already mandatory, according to Le Figaro.
Now the law will also include vaccines for polio, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, pneumococcus and meningococcus C.
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Immunizing all children against illnesses like measles helps ensure the eradication of the disease from the population, fortifying something called “herd immunity,” which is when a disease is prevented from spreading because enough people are immunized against it. Herd immunity is essential for people with fragile immune systems who are unable to be vaccinated.
In recent years, as mistrust and myths over vaccines have spread via the internet and outspoken critics like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Donald Trump, vaccine rates have declined among children and led to outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases around the world.
France was affected by a measles outbreak earlier this year, as was Italy, which also changed its law to create mandatory vaccines for 12 illnesses, according to Newsweek.
In other countries, including Australia, children cannot enroll in school or play programs unless they are vaccinated.
Philippe referenced French scientist Louis Pasteur, who created the first vaccines, in his speech.
“Children are still dying of measles,” Philippe said. “In the homeland of Pasteur that is not admissible.”
In Italy, parents who do not vaccinate children before they begin school face fines. France has not yet said what penalties it will impose for law breakers there.
Global Citizen campaigns on improving access to vaccines for people around the world to ensure that no one has to die from preventable disease.