Austria may enforce mandatory vaccination for children

Image copyright EPA Image caption The directive, if passed, would bind 27 countries Austria will tell its state health insurers to comply with a European Commission directive on covering life-saving vaccination for children and…

Austria may enforce mandatory vaccination for children

Image copyright EPA Image caption The directive, if passed, would bind 27 countries

Austria will tell its state health insurers to comply with a European Commission directive on covering life-saving vaccination for children and adolescents, unless there are medical reasons for not doing so.

It is part of a wider commitment by Austria’s new government to boost vaccination.

The commitment to vaccinate 11-17-year-olds follows a state-run competition for children’s vaccines which drew in more than 30 million euros ($36m; £29m).

The Austrian Ministry of Health says it hopes all European states will adopt a similar vaccination mandate.

“At the same time, the ministry strongly warns healthcare providers not to use the coverage as an alternative to independent examination of vaccination decisions,” it said in a statement.

Austria – which borders both Italy and Germany – has in the past not always been open to vaccinations. In May 2017, it failed to provide the majority of immunisation targets required by the World Health Organization for young children.

But it wants to boost immunisation coverage from 72% to 80% for children aged 0-4 to 83% for children aged 5-11.

Following the vaccination procurement process, a series of health centres had received five million euros in donations from pharmaceutical companies to cover the cost of vaccinations for children aged 6-11 years.

Vaccines were a very popular topic during elections last year when voters in the mountainous eastern region of Carinthia urged their candidates to support vaccination.

Austria is not alone in trying to promote vaccination.

Along with Austria, the Netherlands is planning to reintroduce compulsory vaccination.

In 2017, more than 1 million children were immunised, according to health ministry figures.

As well as Switzerland, 18 other EU member states, including Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Netherlands, have mandatory vaccination for children, with the majority requiring vaccination of all children.

This requirement for vaccinations is usually set at the second or third trimester.

Immunisation uptake is the rate at which all children aged up to 18 months are vaccinated according to recommendations set by the World Health Organization.

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