Vaccinating children is amongst the most cost-effective interventions for reducing children’s morbidity and mortality. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children despite having been informed about the evidence on safety and efficacy of vaccines may seriously jeopardise the health of both their own children and others. Contemporary ethical thinking about the limits of parental decision-making over their children’s healthcare treatment often considers the zone of parental discretion. However, with vaccination this is slightly less direct as the benefits are not only accumulated by an individual child but also by children as a population. Forcing parents is of course not the only solution to counteracting the fear of vaccines. Health authorities should certainly fund research and deploy resources on combatting vaccine disinformation.
Conclusion: It would be preferable to achieve high rates of vaccination coverage by educating both parents and physicians without adopting any legislation for mandatory vaccination. However, in countries where vaccination uptake is low and/or outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases occur, the implementation of mandatory vaccination will most probably save children’s lives. EAP calls for action to make all scheduled childhood vaccinations a matter of fact for all European children.
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Hadjipanayis, A., Dornbusch, H.J., Grossman, Z. et al. Mandatory vaccination: a joint statement of the Ethics and Vaccination working groups of the European Academy of Paediatrics. Eur J Pediatr 179, 683–687 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-019-03523-4
- Mandatory vaccines
- Vaccine hesitancy
- European Academy of Paediatrics