EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has little sympathy for vaccine opponents: "While people in some parts of the world are dying because of vaccine shortages, some people are putting their lives and others at risk by refusing vaccinations," he said World inoculation summit in Brussels, organized by the European Commission together with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Juncker pointed to the increase in diseases such as measles. The number of measles deaths has increased sixfold in Europe. "And these cases mainly affect non-vaccinated people."
"In Europe, children die from preventable diseases," said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. According to WHO data, nearly three times as many measles cases were registered worldwide in the first half of 2019 as in the whole of 2018. This is due to a growing mistrust of vaccines triggered by the dissemination of misinformation.
EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis called for compulsory vaccination in countries with declining immunization coverage. "If you look at the epidemiological picture and see that you have no chance of a quick comprehensive vaccine protection, you should make it mandatory," he said in Brussels. Children have the right to live, one can not ignore that. "If parents do not understand that, we have to ask ourselves who takes responsibility, of course, Parliament is responsible and the government."
Worldwide disinformation campaigns
According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, lies about vaccines would spread not only in Europe, the US and Canada, but also in countries like Pakistan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This also hampers "the fight against polio, Ebola and other diseases that can be treated with vaccines".
The EU and WHO want to counteract this together and therefore work together with digital platforms and social networks in order to specifically address disinformation. Ghebreyesus called the onset of cooperation with companies such as Pinterest and Facebook "a good start," but much more needs to be done.