Anti-vax views must not derail France’s compulsory vaccine law

The nation is about to make 11 childhood vaccines mandatory, but unless anti-vax echo chambers are tackled, the law may not fulfil its promise, says Laura Spinney

A new law takes force in France on 1 January to up the number of mandatory childhood vaccines to 11 from three. It has provoked a polemic, but the law is sound. If there is a problem here, it is the neglect by officials of the main drivers of vaccine hesitancy.

France isn’t the first nation to get tough, as anti-vaccination views rose widely after the Wakefield scandal in the UK. Most recently, Italy passed a similar law in July, and a number of US states have also adopted a stricter stance on vaccinating children. However, France has the world’s worst anti-vax attitudes: a 2016 survey showed that 41 per cent of people there say vaccines are unsafe.

The hope is the law will reverse a 20-year fall in vaccine coverage that has eroded herd immunity and raised the risk

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