Dutch gov't looking into mandatory vaccinations

The Dutch government is launching an investigation into the advantages and disadvantages of an "overall vaccination obligation" to get the vaccination rate back up if it falls even lower, State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health wrote in a letter to parliament. He called mandatory vaccinations the "extreme measure", RTL Nieuws reports.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, has been concerned about the falling vaccination rate for some time. In November Blokhuis said that he wants to address this problem by speaking to anti-vaxxers directly, inviting them to discuss their concerns with a health professional. 

But the Kamer is concerned that these measures will not have the desired effect. VVD party leader Klaas Dijkhoff suggested mandatory vaccination as an option. During a debate in February, VVD parliamentarian Hayke Veldman mentioned Australia's policy, where parents who do not get their children vaccinated can be cut on their child care benefits or other benefits. There were also suggestions of allowing child care institutions to refuse unvaccinated children. 

The Kamer asked Blokhuis to investigate these options, just in case the vaccination rate in the Netherlands drops any lower. On Thursday Blokhuis said that he will do so. He will also look into the pros and cons of a mandatory consultation, which Germany is already doing. 

He added, however, that there is no "one effective approach to increasing the vaccination rate". He therefore wants to investigate various measures with a more or less compulsory nature to determine what would work best in the Netherlands.

Blokhuis did not say how low the vaccination rate must fall before measures will be implemented. The World Health Organization considers a vaccination rate of 95 percent as critical, because that ensures group immunity. The Netherlands already dropped below that. New vaccination figures will be released in the summer. 

The issue of vaccinations is now again a topic of much debate, because of a measles outbreak at a daycare in The Hague. A total of four young children have been diagnosed with the disease.