The abandoning of vaccinations in adults and children can prove dangerous or even fatal, the pediatricians of the Reina Fabiola Children’s Hospital (HUDERF) wrote in a statement on Monday. They launched a new information campaign on the occasion of the European Immunisation Week, which takes place from 24 to 30 April, due to the return of vaccine-preventable diseases and currents of disinformation.
Pediatricians and HUDERF researchers have seen the resurgence of some serious diseases that were thought to have been eradicated by vaccination. A measles epidemic is spreading across Europe, for example, and more than 70 cases have been reported this year in Belgium, compared to 7 to 8 cases in the same period in 2015-2016, they say. Whooping cough also kills one to five children a year in Belgium.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that vaccination saves three million lives each year, but currents of disinformation lead some parents to abandon or delay the vaccination of their children, says HUDERF. “Since the vaccination rate has dropped in recent years, fewer people are protected, which allows viruses and bacteria to spread more quickly”, confirmed Pierre Smeesters, head of the pediatric department at the university hospital. “We must absolutely achieve and maintain a very high immunisation rate of 95%, which is not the case for measles nowadays in Wallonia and Brussels.” Pediatricians point out that vaccines are very safe because they are being monitored continuously.
The medical team of the HUDERF wishes to address the lack of information of parents by answering questions during this week of vaccinations and during the rest of the year, explaining in particular the absence of a link with autism or the sudden death of infants, the efficacy of combined vaccines, the development of vaccination coverage in Belgium and the conditions of epidemics.