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Vaccination rate “critical”: campaign informs reluctant parents
Photo: SELF Magazine

Doctors and patient organisations have started a national campaign aimed at boosting the vaccination rate which they say is so low that it is endangering the lives of children and vulnerable elderly.

Organisers are hoping that posters and a website with information about the importance of vaccinations against such childhood diseases as measles and whooping cough will persuade parents to get the jabs for their children. Both illnesses are on the rise, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Four babies and one adult have died from whooping cough so far this year, an avoidable disease that causes hacking coughs and a lack of oxygen to the brain.

The vaccination rate must be over 95% to provide adequate protection. In 2022 it plummeted to under 90%.

Vaccinations are also falling among adults, Ted van Essen of flu monitoring organisation Nederlandse Influenza Stichting told the AD.

“Over half of vaccinations are given to adults and there the decline is even steeper, Of the people who risk serious consequences from flu just 57% get the jab. That used to be 75% 20 years ago,” he said.

Parents are questioning the use and type of vaccinations, health board youth health doctor Caroline Schouten said. “They are critical and that is good,” she said. But she also faces parents whose doubts are being caused by influencers, conspiracy theorists, and some MPs.

“I feel I’m in a parallel universe sometimes,” she told the paper.

Schouten said her approach is to listen to parents and ask them if they want to hear what she has to say. “If they say yes, I share my knowledge and experience. If they say no, I won’t insist because you’re talking to a brick wall. I do ask them to take action if their child starts coughing. Whooping cough is doing the rounds and if they hear about the risks they may start to think about vaccination.”

The main thing is not to alienate parents and make sure youth health services make everyone feel welcome. ‘We are not just a “vaccination factory”. Parents must also feel they can come to us for other things that concern their children,” Schouten said.

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