The newly-elected French government has decided to heed the warning of medical scientists worldwide, and has decided to make vaccines mandatory by 2018. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said it was “unacceptable” that children are “still dying of measles” in the country where the earliest vaccines were pioneered. Mister Philippe referenced the legendary biologist Louis Pasteur, who worked on one of the world’s first vaccines in the 19th century.
Vaccines vs diseases
At the moment, three vaccines are mandatory in France: for diphtheria, tetanus, and polio. However, the recommendations of international medical bodies (including the World Health Organization) include several other vaccines, including measles. In Europe and the US, measles outbreaks have grown increasingly threatening. In Romania’s unvaccinated community, there have already been 500 cases and at least 17 fatalities. Italy has also reported an outbreak, just as vaccination rates started to fall off. Across the ocean, the American state of Maine reported its first case of measles in over 20 years — and all this is directly correlated to a reduction in vaccination.
French authorities have realized what scientists have been screaming for years: it’s pointless to have so many people suffer and even be killed at the hands of diseases for which we have a silver bullet.
The measles vaccine is extremely effective. Researchers estimate that just since 2000, it has saved over 20,000,000 lives worldwide. It’s not even like measles is an isolated case. Just look at polio — polio cases have dropped by over 99% since vaccines have been introduced, but with vaccination rates dropping, these risks can re-emerge. Instead of executing our coup de grace and completely eradicating these diseases, we’re offering them another chance. This is exactly what Philippe said to motivate this decision — we can’t afford to allow dangerous infectious diseases to reappear by not vaccinating.
“We have the same problem with meningitis. It’s not acceptable that a 15-year-old teenager could die just because they have not been vaccinated,” the minister said.
The move also follows a petition signed by 200 senior doctors and hospital bosses, pleading for officials to take measures to prevent such diseases from taking their toll. It’s more than just a personal decision, it’s a collective responsibility.
“Vaccination isn’t only a personal choice that solely benefits the person who is vaccinated” but “it aims to protect the population, in particular children, the elderly and fragile,” wrote the health professionals.
“Systematic vaccination has eradicated diseases, such as Smallpox ” the text noted, “but the reduction in the vaccination coverage rate of the population has led to the resurgence of certain diseases such as measles.”
The eight more vaccines that will be introduced are for whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitus B, influenza, pneumonia and meningitis C.
The baffling trend of anti-vaccination (anti-vaxxing) has turned into a menace. It’s become somewhat fashionable to refuse vaccination, completely ignoring a big chunk of modern medicine and going against everything science (and common sense) says. Why would people shun such a useful tool, a tool that has kept some of the world’s most dangerous diseases at bay?
It’s hard to say, though ignorance and exposure to misleading propaganda definitely play a role. But a big part of it is owed to a single man: Andrew Wakefield.
Andrew Wakefield is a former medical researcher. I say former because he was struck off the UK medical register for a fraudulent 1998 research paper, as well other proven charges of misconduct. His infamous research paper claimed that there was a link between the administration of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the appearance of autism and bowel disease. This is the only paper to suggest a link between vaccines and autism, and it’s been retracted.
Not only has this since been discredited many times through different studies, but it has been proven that Wakefield knowingly tampered with this study, and even subjected the children to unnecessary and painful procedures, such as colonoscopies and lumbar punctures. That’s right — the entire idea that vaccines cause autism is caused by a fraudulent study which abused children in the process. How did it grow so much? I have no idea.
Ironically, France is one of the countries which bought this lie, much more than others. According to a recent survey, 3 in 10 Frenchmen don’t trust vaccines, and only 52% of people believe the risks outweigh the benefits.
“We are astonished to see that 41 percent of the French say they are wary of vaccinations”, said François Chast, head of pharmacology at Paris hospitals.“It is urgent to fight the speeches of anti-science and anti-vaccination lobbies that play on fear, they show nothing and rely on a few very rare side effects to discredit vaccines that save millions of lives,” he said.
*For our anti-vaxxer friends, you are more than welcome to hop on to the comment section and make your case, we will do our best to reply. But please reference peer-reviewed science. Thank you!