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Infant vaccination coverage falls below 90 percent, lowest in decades

An increasing number of children in the Netherlands are not receiving standard vaccinations against infectious diseases. Vaccine coverage among the youngest age group fell just below 90% last year for the first time in decades, according to a report from the National Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIVM). The institute is concerned about this trend. Public Health Secretary of State Maarten van Eugen also said it was “extremely worrying”.

“High vaccination coverage is essential to keep people safe from serious diseases and to prevent epidemics of these diseases,” RIVM stressed.

This is the second consecutive year of decline. Jeanne-Marie Ammann, manager of the National Immunization Program (RVP), hopes the trend will reverse. Failure to do so risks creating a “health disparity” between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not, she said.

RIVM believes the decline may be related to the coronavirus pandemic and the mistrust that some had of vaccines and government in general. Van Eugen also pointed out the “disinformation” that spread during the pandemic.

Hamment said it’s important to talk to people about their doubts so they can be addressed. “We need to learn to listen to each other better,” she said. The secretary of state also wants to “better understand how we can approach groups that are not currently participating.”

At RVP, children are vaccinated from infancy against mumps, measles, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio (DPTP) and pneumococcal diseases. RIVM explained that high vaccination coverage is essential to protect against highly contagious diseases like measles. In previous generations, vaccination coverage was consistently well above 90%. So the protection is “overall still very good,” Hamment said.

But after years of declining vaccination coverage, the disease could resurface. “We are not quite there yet,” said van Eugen. “But of course we have to do everything we can to prevent that from happening.”

RIVM has launched a research program to answer questions such as how to best inform people about vaccination and how to make it as accessible as possible.

According to the figures, between 87.3 and 90 percent of babies born in 2020 received various vaccines. The RIVM added that underreporting may exist as some people refuse to register for vaccination.

https://nltimes.nl/2023/06/29/baby-vaccination-rate-decades-low-point-90-percent Infant vaccination coverage falls below 90 percent, lowest in decades

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