WHO advice for vaccination drop-outs

Editorial Board

Editorial Board

April 24th, 2012

Editorial Board

‘Parents who opt out of recommended immunisation programmes should understand the risks and responsibilities their decision brings, according to the World Health Organisation’s Europe office.’

MeningitisIn a new guide for parents, published to mark , WHO Europe says that by taking the decision to delay or refuse vaccines, parents could put their child’s health at risk.

Parents are urged to tell medical staff that their children have not received all recommended vaccines any time they make an emergency call, visit a hospital or attend a doctor’s clinic.

This, they explain, is because health professionals need to look out for vaccine-preventable diseases and so that doctors can consider options for protecting other children (such as isolation).

WHO, Europe which strongly supports immunisation, warns that unprotected children may be asked not to attend schools or crèches if there is an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease in their community.

“Any vaccine-preventable disease can appear at any time in the European Region because all of these diseases still circulate either here or elsewhere in the world,” it says.

The two-page guide also offers practical advice for people travelling with unvaccinated children and encourages parents to check their own immunisation status to ensure they are not putting any child at risk.

Aside from protecting one’s own children, the WHO appeals to parents to consider the impact their decision can have on others in their community. This includes those who are too young or too ill to be vaccinated.

“Communities depend on high immunisation coverage to keep vaccine-preventable diseases from spreading. The more parents who choose not to vaccinate their children, the greater the risk of spreading diseases. You put not only your child but also your community at risk when you decide not to vaccinate.”

Resources from WHO Europe:

If you choose not to vaccinate your child, understand the risks and responsibilities

Vaccine-preventable resources: Signs, symptoms and complications