Parents in France will be legally obliged to vaccinate their children against 11 common illness from 2018 onwards.
Currently, only three vaccines – diphtheria, tetanus, and polio – are compulsory in France. This new plan wants to extend this to include eight more: measles, hepatitis B, influenza, whooping cough, mumps, rubella, pneumonia, and meningitis C.
The plans were announced by France’s new prime minister Edouard Philippe during Tuesday's parliamentary address, Le Figaro reports.
Speaking to French newspaper Le Parisien last month, France’s Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn said they were making eleven vaccines compulsory in light of a measles epidemic in France. Between 2008 and 2016, over 24,000 cases of measles (and 10 measles-related deaths) were reported in France, despite vaccinations being widely available.
“Today, only three infant vaccines are compulsory (diphtheria, tetanus, and polio). This poses a real public health problem,” Buzyn said.
”Today, in France, measles reappears. It is not tolerable that children die from it: 10 have died since 2008. Since this vaccine is only recommended and not mandatory, the coverage rate is 75 percent, whereas it should be 95 percent to prevent this epidemic. We have the same problem with meningitis.”
In May, the Italian government ruled that children must be vaccinated against 12 common illnesses before they can attend state-run schools.
In a study carried out on 65,819 individuals across 67 countries last year, France was the most skeptical country about vaccine safety in the world. The survey found 41 percent of respondents in France disagreed with the statement “vaccines are safe”, compared to a global average of 13 percent.
Fears about vaccine safety largely stem from a fraudulent study by Andrew Wakefield. The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet in 1998, argued there was a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the appearance of autism and bowel disease.
Wakefield has since been barred from practicing as a doctor in the UK after being found guilty of serious professional misconduct. His study was officially retracted from the journal it was published in after they found a "fatal conflict of interest".