The Irish government is considering making child vaccinations mandatory. The proposal from Health Minister Simon Harris comes after UNICEF reported that measles cases in Ireland have jumped by more than 200 percent since last year.
“I feel there is something irresponsible and that is against the public good sending an unvaccinated child into a school or into a creche or into a public place where they could actually make other children sick,” Harris stated. “Particularly young babies, who might be too young to actually get vaccinated, could end up with a very significant disease.”
All 50 US states require child vaccinations in order to attend school, but 47 states provide exemptions based on religious or philosophical beliefs. According to the CDC’s National Immunization Survey, this has resulted in rising exemption rates among infants and school-aged children — and it looks as though we’re seeing the fallout already.
From January 1 to April 19, 2019, 626 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 22 states. This is an increase of 71 cases from the previous week. This is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000, second only to the 667 cases reported during all of 2014. In the coming weeks, 2019 confirmed case numbers will likely surpass 2014 levels.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Before we started vaccinating against measles, measles was the single leading killer of children in the world,” Peter Jay Hotez, a vaccinologist at the Baylor College of Medicine, told the PBS News Hour.
Vaccinations are mandatory in a handful of countries, such as Italy, France, and Hungary; however, the research is mixed on whether or not that makes it more effective than countries where vaccinations are compulsory.
Harris is urging healthcare professionals to push back against anti-vaxxers who believe vaccinations are harmful to children. “Vaccinations work but we’re seeing the impact of the scaremongering, in terms of the rates, not just in this country but in international reports as well,” he said.
Writers at the UK publication The Mirror agree — but they’re much more harsh about it. This morning they published photos of measles-infected babies with an article entitled, “Stupid parents who don’t vaccinate their children should go to jail.” This was followed by the sub-heading, “The anti-vax brigade kills youngsters just like drug dealers, speeding drivers and child abusers.”
The debate is only going to rage on. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), by mid-January there were just under 230,000 reported cases of measles around the world. The same time last year, there were only 115,000.