Dutch gov't looking into letting daycares refuse non-vaccinated kids

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Tuberculosis vaccine (Photo: RIVM)Tuberculosis vaccine (Photo: RIVM)

The Dutch government will re-examine whether it is possible to allow daycare centers to refuse children who haven't been vaccinated. A parliamentary majority, led by the three largest government parties, supports this, RTL Nieuws reports.

"Childcare must be a safe place. I understand the concerns about decreasing vaccination, that also affects childcare", State Secretary Tamara van Ark of Social Affairs said on Twitter. "That is why I want to investigate possibilities for organizations to refuse childcare for non-vaccinated children."

State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health, who is responsible for the vaccination program, previously announced that he will reveal a plan in the autumn to reduce the drop in vaccination coverage. So far the government mainly focused on extra information for hesitant parents. But the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, feels that more needs to be done, according to the broadcaster.

The number of people in Europe infected with measles increased drastically this year. In the first six months alone, more than 41 thousand people were diagnosed with the measles virus, of whom at least 37 died, according to the World Health Organization. In the whole of 2017 Europe saw almost 24 thousand measles infections, and around 5 thousand in 2016. Most cases occur in eastern Europe. But France and Italy each already had more than a thousand measles cases in the first half of 2018.

In the Netherlands too fewer and fewer babies, toddlers and kids are being vaccinated against mumps, measles and rubella. Four years ago the Netherlands dropped below the 95 percent mark of vaccinated children for the first time. According to the World Health Organization, 95 percent of a population needs to be vaccinated to guarantee group immunity for measles. Last year only 90.2 percent of 2-year-olds got their vaccinations, according to figures RIVM released earlier this year. ​

VVD faction leader Klaas Dijkhoff thinks that mandatory vaccinations should be considered if the vaccination coverage continues to drop, he said in a column. The liberal VVD usually don't like making things mandatory, but Dijkhoff thinks this case made need an exception. First he wants parents to be more explicitly warned about the risks of not vaccinating their child - not only their child is at risk, but also other babies and toddlers who are too young for a vaccination. 

"Hopefully we will then soon get the vaccination coverage above 95 percent", Dijkhoff said. "If that does not work, then as a liberal I may have to argue for a vaccination obligation."