Rubella and measles can and must be eliminated in Romania, and confidence in immunization must rise, Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe said on Thursday in Bucharest.
“I am delighted with the involvement of the Government, of Parliament in solving this problem and reducing measles and rubella in Romania. (…) Immunization has saved many children’s lives over the last few years, and this is the first prevention measure, the most important we have at hand. (…) We must continue with the immunization of people in many regions of the world. We need to increase confidence in immunization. The myth of anti-vaccination can lead to people’s refusal to vaccinate, but at the same time it can open the door to certain diseases. (…) We must carry on, to eliminate these diseases. (…) Rubella and measles can and must be eliminated in Romania. We have to make sure that Romania joins the other states that have succeeded in eliminating these diseases”, the WHO Regional Director for Europe told the Conference “Vaccination: A Public Health Issue. Children, beyond figures,” organized at the Palace of Parliament.
According to her, the largest measles outbreak in recent years was recorded in Romania.
The outbreak in Romania began in January 2016 and spread throughout the country with 4,881 cases recorded, including 23 deaths so far. All ages were affected, but children in particular. (…) 97 percent of these cases occurred in people who had not been vaccinated. (…) A timely vaccination could have been accomplished or should be a priority for the immunization program. All persons must have access to immunization. Practically, through vaccination people can protect themselves against certain diseases, the doctor said.
The Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella WHO elimination will meet between June 15-17 in Bucharest, the representative added.
PM Grindeanu: It’s inadmissible to have multiple vaccine shortage crises each year. Situation can no longer be tolerated
Premier Sorin Grindeanu told the conference on immunisation, that “it’s inadmissible” for vaccine shortage crises to occur in Romania each year, adding he is determined to solve this problem and believing that solutions must be found to stock up on vaccines before resorting to public awareness campaigns, because otherwise there will be a “ridiculous” situation in which sanctions are imposed in the absence of vaccines.
“Truth is that before thinking out public awareness campaigns, or the mandatory character of vaccination, we must ensure that those vaccines exist and are available on the market, because otherwise we risk ending up in a ridiculous situation in which we impose sanctions but lack the stocks,” the Premier said.
He stated he is “100 percent” determined to solve this problem. “It’s a situation that can no longer be tolerated or accepted. It’s inadmissible for multiple vaccine shortage crises to occur in Romania each year. It’s also inadmissible because this situation caused suffering to those families whose children died of measles,” the Premier said.
Grindeanu added that “there are no excuses” for the dramas of children with health problems caused by the lack of vaccines.
“We’ve reached the point of reporting situations in which, when it comes to certain types of vaccines, only one in two children is still immunised. A person’s life, a child’s life must not depend on fate or on a refrigerating crate in which the necessary vaccine is brought to them from abroad,” he said, adding that the vaccine issue is “a priority.”
He reiterated that his team is working on a package of solutions for the vaccine crisis, such as the setting up of a national stock and the amending of legislation in the field of procurements.
“The solutions must be found here, and my Government colleagues and I have decided to make a priority out of this. (…) I want to establish clear directions of action that would ensure predictability, flexibility and continuity in the process of stocking up on vaccines,” the Premier added.
“I have two children and I’ve vaccinated both”
Premier Grindeanu also stated, on Thursday, that he has vaccinated both his children, stating he respects the parents’ right to decide whether to do so or not but that unvaccinated children put at risk not only their health but also the health of other children.
“I have two children, a six-year-old and a three-year-old. I vaccinated both, but each time I had problems finding the vaccine I needed. (…) Maybe I’m one of the lucky parents, but vaccinating your own child should certainly not be dependent on an issue related to hazard. (…) It’s true, I support the idea that parents have the right to choose what they believe is best for their child, but at the same time I also believe that individual choices must be discussed when they harm those around, because unvaccinated children put at risk not only their health but also the health of other children,” Sorin Grindeanu stated at a conference titled “European Week of Immunisation – Vaccination: A Public Health Issue. Children Beyond Numbers.”
He added that solving the vaccine shortage is essential but that authorities should, at the same time, address the lack of information.
“I assure you that we – the minister, the team I am leading and I – are determined to take the necessary measures, in a permanent dialogue – just as we started – with physicians, with the institutions responsible in this field, so that, on one hand, we’d manage to solve – and not just temporarily – the problem of vaccines and, on the other hand, we’d manage to correctly inform and educate Romanians about the importance of immunisation, because this is the correct path,” the Premier pointed out.
Bodog: Decision to procure pneumococcal vaccine to be taken next week, we’re starting the procedure
Health Minister Florian Bodog stated on Thursday that the decision to procure the pneumococcal vaccine will be taken next week and the procurement procedures will start.
“I want to inform you that the decision to procure the pneumococcal vaccine will be taken next week and we’ll start the procurement procedures, which I consider a step forward for Romania’s vaccination policy,” Health Minister Florian Bodog stated at the “Vaccination: A Public Health Issue. Children Beyond Numbers” conference.
This year, the Health Ministry will finance, “in a first,” the procurement of the pneumococcal vaccine for children, which can prevent certain cases of pneumonia, meningitis or sepsis, according to a statement that Florian Bodog posted on Facebook early this month.
Health Ministry: Parents can be accused of child abuse and neglect if children die because they were not vaccinated
Health Minister Florian Bodog also stated that the vaccination law does not entail sanctions against parents but it does mention child abuse and neglect, stating that the parents can be accused of child abuse and neglect if children die because of the parents’ decision not to vaccinate them.
“I’m pointing out from the start that this law does not stipulate sanctions. The only thing stipulated in this law is a mention of child abuse and neglect. This stipulation currently exists in the law, it’s not stipulated in the vaccination law but it’s stipulated by law. I believe that if children die because of the parents’ decision not to vaccine them, I believe the parents can be accused of child abuse and neglect. This is the situation the vaccination law mentions. If the clarification of this aspect is needed, we’ll clarify it,” Health Minister Florian Bodog stated on Thursday at the “Vaccination: A Public Health Issue. Children Beyond Numbers” conference.
The Health Minister claimed that the law does not stipulate sanctions for parents but sanctions for the state.
“This law doesn’t stipulate sanctions for parents. This law stipulates sanctions for the state, stipulates sanctions for the ministry, stipulates sanctions for everybody from top down, and I believe this thing is important and I believe the state’s vaccination programme should include both procuring [vaccines] and educating parents and these working groups stipulated by the law, the technical groups, are meant to explain to parents, even to carry out mediation in case parents refuse vaccination,” the Health Minister said.
Florian Bodog stated that a responsible physician or parent cannot say that vaccination is bad for the child regardless of the child’s social status.
“There are situations in which vaccination is counter-indicated from a medical standpoint and these situations are described by law,” the Health Minister pointed out, stating that the bill tabled for public consultations was drafted by specialists and corresponds to current realities.
Florian Bodog stated that by the time the vaccination law comes out of Parliament all vaccine stocks will be assured.