The French government has just announced that parents will be required to vaccinate their children starting next year, joining a growing list of countries that are putting such measures in place. The policy will make it compulsory to get all of the 11 vaccines that are “universally recommended by health authorities.” Right now, just three vaccines – tetanus, polio and diphtheria – are mandatory in the country, while those for whooping cough and hepatitis are recommended but not required.
In recent years, France has seen growing mistrust among the public when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry and public health institutes, and this law aims to turn that around. A 2016 survey found that 41 percent of people in France did not believe that vaccines were safe, earning them first place among 67 countries that were polled. Their figure was also three times higher than the worldwide average. Another survey found that just 52 percent of those polled in France felt that the benefits of vaccines outweighed their risks.
The country stopped mandating vaccines back in the 1950s, and they have seen vaccination rates drop in recent years, particularly when it comes to measles. Experts are blaming high-profile court cases involving vaccine injuries for causing public doubt. A countrywide campaign to vaccinate people against Hepatitis B ground to a halt in 1998 following concerns about side effects, and lawsuits were filed over deaths believed to be caused by the vaccine.
This news comes shortly after Italy put a similar decree in place, forcing children to get 10 vaccines before enrolling in school. Those who fail to get their kids vaccinated prior to starting school when they are six will face fines from the Italian government. Specific details of how the new French law will be enforced have not been revealed. Experts believe that those who fail to vaccinate their kids are not likely to face fines, but they do believe an exemption clause should be put in place for those who have immune deficiencies that prevent them from getting vaccinated.
Could the U.S. be next?
These new rules are leading to concerns here in the U.S. that a similar nationwide mandate could make its way to our shores. Every state in the nation has laws in place that require public school students to get certain vaccines, but each has its own set of exemptions. For example, all allow medical exemptions, and most also grant religious exemptions. A handful of states also allow for philosophical exemptions for people who are opposed to immunizations due to moral, personal or other beliefs.
However, the nation’s tolerance of those who choose not to vaccinate appears to be changing. Several states have removed their personal belief exemptions in recent years, and there are fears that many of the other existing exemptions could be taken away. In fact, so far this year, 35 states have introduced bills that can only be described as pro-vaccine.
The fact remains that vaccines do not have a great track record when it comes to safety and efficacy, and even the inserts that come with the vaccines admit this. The CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System shows that hundreds of deaths each year can be attributed to vaccines, while thousands of families have filed for vaccine injury compensation. These are believed to only represent a small fraction of the total number of vaccine injuries as doctors sometimes convince parents that their children’s health problems could not have been caused by vaccines. The situation is only likely to get worse as more states force parents into getting their kids vaccinated.
With states like California already adopting a similar stance to that of France and Italy, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the nation could follow suit.