Government’s campaign for childhood vaccination contains errors, says Flemish MEP

Government’s campaign for childhood vaccination contains errors, says Flemish MEP
Lorin Parys (N-VA). © BELGA

Flemish Member of Parliament Lorin Parys (N-VA) has asked Minister of Welfare Wouter Beke to withdraw and correct a government campaign about vaccinating children against Covid-19, saying it contains errors that will ignite anti-vaccination sentiments.

Parys says the campaign urges parents to have their children vaccinated against the coronavirus but does not reflect the advice of the Supreme Health Council (HHR) and contains mistakes, according to De Standaard.

“The vaccine is recommended for children with comorbidities, for other children it is offered. That’s a big difference,” he said, referring to a flyer on one of the Flemish government’s vaccination websites that encourages parents to have their children vaccinated without making any distinction.

“The flyer also states, among other things, that immunity through vaccination is better and longer-lasting than through infection, while it’s just the opposite,” Parys said. He added that it says nothing about the Omicron variant, about which little is known so far – especially when it comes to how it affects children.

“I believe in vaccination as a dike against the coronavirus, but the government has to inform the parents who have to make their own decisions correctly and reliably,” said Parys. “Otherwise, it will be grist to the mill of antivaxers.”

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The Flemish Care and Health Agency emphasised that the website and brochure are informative and that vaccination is and remains voluntary.

“This is also emphasised on the website and in all leaflets and was also explained today by the various ministers,” a spokesperson for the agency said. They also said there are no mistakes.

“The entire campaign was developed in consultation with various experts, who also checked the texts. The information in it is correct. So the brochure will not be changed.”

On Monday, health ministers gave the go-ahead for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be used in children aged five to 11.

The decision follows a series of opinions from the European Medicines Agency, the Supreme Health Council and the Bioethics Committee.

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