Expatica news

Concern over lower infant vaccination rate

12 May 2004

AMSTERDAM — Fewer infants are being vaccinated against illness such as mumps and German measles, a report from the Dutch Health Inspectorate warned on Wednesday.

The inspectorate said the vaccination rate of children under the age of one has fallen by 1 percent in recent years, news agency ANP reported.

If polio or measles was to return, it is possible that an epidemic could spread over a much large area. Until recently the main area of concern was the Dutch “Bible belt”, mainly in the eastern Veluwe region, where some orthodox Protestant communities have traditionally been reluctant to have children vaccinated.

Since 1957, about 800,000 children aged between two months and nine are vaccinated each year against illnesses such as whooping-cough and tetanus. About 2 million vaccinations are performed annually.

The vaccination rate in the Netherlands fluctuates around the 95 percent mark. It only dips below 90 percent in the Zeeland province, Dutch public news service NOS reported.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that vaccination rates should be above 90 percent, newspaper Trouw reported.

In areas where a lower rate of vaccinations is carried out due to traditional or religious reasons, the number of vaccinations is on the rise.

Despite this, Inspector General Herre Kingma said the continued overall decline in vaccinations has raised concern.

The inspectorate said the vaccination rate among school children was good. The rate among toddlers was lower, but relatively stable.

But according to the inspectorate, the concerning vaccination rate among infants was due to the inadequate knowledge of illnesses among parents and child care professionals, such as doctors at consultation bureaus and nurses.

It is hoped that an improved information programme will lead to a rise in the vaccination rate among infants.

A new information brochure was distributed by the Government Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) among Dutch consultation bureaus two weeks ago.

The brochures describe for the first time in a comprehensive manner the risks of side-effects that never outweigh the benefits of vaccinations.

Infectious illnesses can be fatal and polio, for example, can lead to the crippling of a child, an inspectorate spokeswoman warned.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news