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2019.04.19 09:04

Opposition MPs propose tougher measles vaccination rules in Lithuania

Milena Andrukaitytė, BNS2019.04.19 09:04

A group of Lithuanian lawmakers, representing the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats and the social democrats, suggest changing the law and making measles vaccination a condition for children's enrolment into the country's kindergartens.

“We propose establishing that only vaccinated children be allowed into kindergartens, be it state-run or private kindergartens,” conservative MP Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, one of the authors of the amendment, told BNS Lithuania.

The amendment to the Law on the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases would only include an exception for children who cannot be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella due to their state of health, for example, allergies.

Vaccination would be also mandatory for adults who work with children, healthcare and education workers, troops and people who work in closed groups.

Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė said mandatory vaccination before going to an education establishment increases the general level of immunization. She also mentioned several European countries as an example.

“Let's say, in France the number of cases dropped significantly after they introduced mandatory vaccination, linking it to the criteria for kindergarten acceptance, and those numbers dropped in a year. If such a decision were made in Lithuania, we wouldn't be the only country in the European Union. Such rules are in place in Italy, Hungary and partly in Poland,” the MP said.

With the number of measles cases on the rise in Lithuania, social democratic MPs earlier tried to pass a bill of mandatory polio, measles and rubella vaccination for children under 16, but the Lithuanian parliament refused to put it on the agenda.

Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga, representing the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, and a number of other representatives of the ruling block are sceptical about mandatory vaccination.

Figures from the Center for Communicable Diseases and AIDS show that almost 500 cases of measles have been reported in Lithuania since January, compared to only 30 cases over 2018.

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