Vaccination? Non merci
Distrust in vaccines is a growing problem in Europe, especially in France.By Natalie Huet 4/20/16, 3:00 PM CET Updated 5/3/16, 4:06 PM CET
This is the latest in a POLITICO special report on vaccines: the accomplishments, history, controversy and business challenges.
France’s health minister got more than she bargained for when she promised a nationwide debate on the benefits and risks of vaccination this spring.
The government is seeking to tackle parents’ growing mistrust on the topic, and to streamline vaccination rules that many consider confusing. But the public debate is slow to come and already under fire from those it was meant to appease.
“There’s so much hypocrisy, it’s like tossing us a bone, but we know that the debate will be completely biased,” said Jacques Bessin, who leads a federation of patient groups that favor natural therapies and are skeptical of vaccines.
Health Minister Marisol Touraine said the consultation will be open and fair, with “no taboo.” But an official leading the Conférence nationale de santé — a group representing patients and health care professionals — resigned with much fanfare earlier this year, calling the whole enterprise a farce, in effect biased in favor of vaccine promotion.
The task for the minister’s cabinet, which did not reply to repeated interview requests, is a tough one.
More than 20 percent of the French don’t support vaccination, more than double from 2009, according to the national prevention institute INPES. Many experts say the government’s clumsy handling of a worldwide flu pandemic that began that year caused confidence to crash.