Against the backdrop of a severe measles epidemic, Romania is running a public information campaign aimed at convincing parents to vaccinate their children.
Romania is facing the biggest measles epidemics in recent years, with 8 thousand cases of infection reported and 31 deaths since its outbreak last September. Although vaccination remains the only protection against the disease, the immunization rate has dropped significantly in recent years. Here is Healthcare Minister Florian Bodog with more on the issue.
Florian Bodog: “Immunization coverage has constantly dropped in the past 50 years due to several causes. First and foremost it’s the lack of information among parents or their access to misleading information from the Internet and other sources and also the anti-vaccination campaigns some organisations have taken to Romania as well. We must also admit that disrupted vaccine supplies have also contributed to the present situation. “
Nevertheless, the present epidemic’s main cause remains the parents’ refusal to immunize their children. They fear the possible side effects vaccines could have on the little ones, fear that was fuelled by the erroneous information available on line and in other sources. The first measure meant to keep the epidemic at bay is a draft law to be submitted shortly to the government and subsequently sent for Parliament approval.
Under the law, parents may choose not to vaccinate their children but are to assume responsibility for the consequences. The law also provides for sanctions against those involved in supplying and distributing the vaccines. Until the law gets Parliament approval, the Executive decided to raise people’s awareness through an information campaign, which they hope will convince parents that vaccination is the right solution. Alexandru Rafila, head of the Romanian Society of Microbiology, has also underlined the need for such a campaign.
Alexandru Rafila: “The information for parents and people in general must be accessible and credible and such information campaigns must be permanent.”
In the spirit of its public mission, Radio Romania has joined the efforts of providing information on the benefits of vaccination and started its own campaign in this respect. We recall that our radio station broadcast a similar campaign two years ago. Radio Romania has dedicated some of its slots to news, reports and special programmes aimed at raising people’s awareness of the dangers children are exposed to if they don’t get the vaccine; 180,000 children have not been immunized for measles.
Both through its broadcasts and webpages, the public radio provides information about the risks facing those who refuse the vaccines, side effects and the need for adopting proper legislation in this respect. At global level, one out of ten children didn’t get a vaccine in 2016. The UNICEF and the World Health Organisation are deploring the fact that millions of children are facing the risks of getting a disease with potentially lethal consequences.