Published for the Vaccine Hesitancy Seminar on 11 December 2017 in Brussels. The event brought together together the World Health Organisation, the European Commission, the Standing Committee of European Doctors and Vaccines Europe. High level participants have agreed that making vaccination mandatory can have the adverse effect as it is expected to be considered by many as a defeat of civil society and human rights. As a conclusion, all participants agreed that strengthened collaboration with all main stakeholders will be necessary in order to face the challenges around vaccination.
Parents International contributed to the event partly by publishing this statement based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Parents are the ones responsible for upbringing their children, thus also for their health and a safe environment for them (UNCRC Article 5). Parents’ rights emerging from this responsibility have to be respected, so any decision should be theirs, no state obligations should contradict this approach or prevent them from responsible decisions.
To come to the right decision, parents need objective information and support (UNCRC Article 18). Reluctant or anti-vaccination parents often act out of a position of lack of information and misunderstanding. Therefore governments are responsible for supplying such concepts and activities for a better understanding, avoiding bias towards pro or anti opinions, and offering clear and simple explanations on public and private benefits as well as risks.
All these efforts must not be biased by pharmaceutical industries or any other organisations or institutions with primarily economic interest.
All parents love their children and have great aspirations for them. If you can manage to provide clear and comprehensive information with reasonable arguments, most parents will follow your recommendations for the sake of their children, while others will take their own responsible pathways.
Anti-vaccination movements are not to be tackled by oppressive measures, but authorities have a responsibility in reviewing individual cases if necessary and seek the decision of independent courts in case parents appear to be unable to fulfil their duties in bringing up their children. Parents must possess the right to decision as long as an independent court has not restricted their guardian duties.
Problems arising from a shrinking percentage of vaccinated children should be tackled by analysing the reasons, offering a balanced approach to pros and cons, ensuring media coverage and individual support to parents in their decision making, but not by introducing compulsory vaccination against the parents’ will.