Vaccination in France

France establishes mandatory vaccination for 11 diseases.  Vaccination laws are being reinforced throughout Europe, where the drop in immunization has caused an increase in diseases such as measles.  The Government of France announced the compulsory vaccination of children for 11 diseases, a measure that is included in a bill that will be evaluated in the French Parliament this autumn. At the moment, it is unknown the amount of sanctions that will result disobeying the mandate, if children can enroll in schools if they are not vaccinated or if Social Security will bear the costs. “It is true that vaccination coverage, for some vaccines, is less good,” Francois Bricaire, head of the infectious and tropical diseases service at the Pitié Salpetrière public hospital in Paris, confirmed to RFI. “These diseases that you want to add to the list of mandatory vaccines are viral or bacterial diseases and they have not disappeared, they are controlled,” he explains.

“We no longer see cases or see fewer cases thanks to vaccines but this does not mean that the responsible germs have disappeared, that is: there is a tetanus bacillus in the soil, there is a diphtheria bacillus in the throats of some people, and the measles virus circulates. We have seen that when the percentages of vaccinated people fall, these infectious diseases reappear, “says the doctor. Since 2008, measles has killed more than 10 people in France. The last one, a 16 year old girl in Nice. Before, only three childhood vaccines were mandatory in France: against diphtheria, tetanus and polio. There are 8 more mandatory vaccines now: whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, meningitis, pneumococcus and meningococcal C. Buzyn has argued that “vaccination coverage in France is insufficient” and that the decision to include another eight vaccines within the concept of obligatory nature responds to a public health problem, given that some diseases already eradicated have begun to reappear. “Vaccination has saved millions of lives,” she said. However, since 2008 at least 10 people have died in the country because of measles. “It is intolerable and we cannot accept that children and adolescents die because they have not been vaccinated,” she added. Vaccination laws are being reinforced throughout Europe, where the drop in immunization has caused an increase in diseases such as chicken pox and mumps, in addition to measles, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. In recent years, the rise of the anti-vaccines movement has revived evils considered eradicated, as happened with measles in the United States, due to ignorance or mistrust, based on false beliefs, such as vaccines cause autism.

But a 2014 report from the American Institute of Medicine concluded that vaccines “were very safe except on very rare exceptions”, while nine studies by the Centers for Disease Control of that country carried out since 2003 did not find -as denounced by the anti-vaccines-, “no link between vaccines with thimerosal (an antifungal) and autism”. According to a study conducted by the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, the country in which they are most wary is precisely in France, where 41% of respondents doubt that vaccines are safe, almost 30 points above the 12% of the world average. The announcement to return these mandatory vaccines raised the protests of the anti-vaccination movement in France. Although the law provides for up to six months in prison and a fine of 3,750 euros for recalcitrant parents, the minister said that an exception clause would be established for completely opposite parents.

Inform more than oblígate 

On the other hand, for environmentalist MEP Michèle Rivasi, forcing parents to vaccinate their children will be counterproductive: “I am not anti-vaccine, I think it is absolutely necessary to vaccinate children, but if we want to restore confidence, we must ask ourselves why there is distrust on the part of the parents This comes in part from the scandals that have occurred: as with the hepatitis B vaccine, or when we had to drop thousands of vaccines against the H1N1 flu because we had scared people. Many of the experts who give recommendations on the vaccination schedule are financed by the laboratories, “explains Rivasi.

For the MEP, “to force parents is ineffective, is infantilize them.” “The obligation will encourage the anti-vaccine groups that are going to denounce a conspiracy and manipulation,” he complains. “It is better to make people responsible, to give scientific arguments, to have experts without conflicts of interest, and finally to make the decision between the doctor and the parents.”The health minister also had to act after a warning from the State Council. Since 2008, the vaccine grouping diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis in a single product is no longer marketed in France. And the laboratories propose those vaccines associated with others – up to now not obligatory – for higher prices. Back obligatory eleven vaccines will only benefit pharmaceutical laboratories, report the most critical. In fact, vaccines represent 5% of the global benefits of the medical industry, relativizes the journal Sciences et Avenir. On the contrary, Buzyn has pointed out, however, that a specific repressive device has not been incorporated for parents who do not comply with this obligation, beyond warning them that they will not be able to register their children in nurseries, schools or holiday camps, both public and private. The French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, announced last July that France would incorporate compulsory vaccination in response to the growing skepticism of French society and to avoid major public health problems.

Traveling to France

Depending on the countries of origin, France sometimes requires the presentation of certificates of vaccination against certain diseases, despite this and because the regulation on vaccines varies constantly, it is advisable to consult in case of doubts. For those who come from Latin American or African countries, the vaccination certificate against yellow fever is required. No certificates or special precautions are required regarding Malaria and Cholera.Because in France there have been some cases of rabies, it is advisable for those who include risk activities in their vacations, to be vaccinated previously. For those destined for rural areas, vaccination against tick encephalitis should be considered.