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Up to 300 people are believed to have been exposed to measles after an unvaccinated child was diagnosed with the highly contagious virus in Luoto, Ostrobothnia. (Credit: Tomi Hirvinen – Lehtikuva)
Up to 300 people are believed to have been exposed to measles after an unvaccinated child was diagnosed with the highly contagious virus in Luoto, Ostrobothnia. (Credit: Tomi Hirvinen – Lehtikuva)

 

Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP), the Minister of Education, has declared her readiness to take action to address the decline in vaccination coverage in some regions in Finland.

Grahn-Laasonen on Sunday proposed that a study be launched to explore a variety of means to raise the national vaccination coverage to a sufficient level, including making child benefits or other family benefits conditional on the child being vaccinated.

“We have to have the courage to discuss means to prevent the erosion of the vaccination coverage,” she underscored in a press release. “Small children are unable to make decisions about their own health and how to take care of it independently. That is a responsibility for the parents. Duties and obligations are last-resort measures, but [we have to consider] if we have already crossed that line.”

Grahn-Laasonen reminded that guaranteeing a high vaccination coverage is necessary to safeguard children and the entire population from contagious diseases.

“Not vaccinating your child is not a private matter,” she argued. “If parents refuse to vaccinate their children, there will be no herd immunity to prevent diseases from spreading and transmitting to small children who, due to their young age, have yet to received the vaccination.”

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Vaccination rates have declined alarmingly in Finland. No more than 75 per cent of children in certain areas of the country have received the so-called triple vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, according to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

A coverage of at least 95 per cent is required to create herd immunity against such contagious diseases.

Mia Laiho (NCP), a first-term Member of the Parliament, revealed earlier last weekend that the coverage is only slightly over 70 per cent in Luoto, Ostrobothnia, where an unvaccinated child was diagnosed with measles last week following a family holiday abroad. YLE on Friday reported that up to 300 people are believed to have been exposed to the highly contagious virus.

“Experts have stated that it is only a matter of time before there is an epidemic. The question you should be asking is why nothing was done about the issue earlier,” Laiho wrote in a blog on Puheenvuoro.

“You simply cannot monitor the low vaccination rates year after year and hope for the best,” she emphasised.

Laiho, a specialist in internal medicine has previously worked as a chief physician at Malmi City Hospital and as resident physician at the Helsinki University Hospital.

Also other experts and policy makers have voiced their concerns about low vaccination rates.

Markku Myllykangas, an adjunct professor of medical sociology at the University of Eastern Finland, viewed in a guest contribution to Ilta-Sanomat on Saturday that one way to restore vaccination rates could be to prohibit unvaccinated children from entering daycare centres.

“Children need our protection, and that is why I am in favour of mandatory vaccinations or at least some kind of sanctions for parents who refuse to vaccinate their children against measles,” he said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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