COVID-19 remains familiar to us all, but diseases like measles and mumps may have faded from our memory. However, Gjalt Jellesma, the chairman of the Parents' Association in Childcare (Boink), is deeply concerned about a potential resurgence. The reason for his worry is the recently announced decline in vaccination rates. Menno de Jong, Professor of Clinical Virology and chair of the Department of Microbiology & Infection Prevention at Amsterdam UMC, believes Jellesma's concerns about an outbreak are justified.
In 2015, the vaccination rate for mumps, measles, and rubella was at 91 percent, but in 2022, it dropped to 83 percent. "It is not just about children getting sick or potentially fatally ill; they can also suffer long-lasting damage," explains Jellesma.
According to Prof. de Jong, concerns about an outbreak are justified: "When the vaccination rate is declining at this pace, it is not a matter of if, but when. We have already seen this in the Bible Belt, and the vaccination rate over there is similar to the rate we are approaching now in Amsterdam.”
In Nieuw-West, the vaccination rate is even lower than the Amsterdam average, standing at 71 percent. Jellesma is concerned about the daycare centers in the neighborhood. "I do indeed have a lot of concerns. In an environment where children are already vulnerable for various reasons, adding a health aspect to it is troubling. A childcare facility should be able to welcome all children, and these issues should not come into play," he says.
Uncovering the reasons behind vaccination decline
The actual reasons behind the decline still need to be investigated. "There are thoughts that it has to do with trust in the government. If that is the case, it requires education for those people. But then the question remains: who are these people now?" Prof. De Jong says. Jellesma has his suspicions about the cause: "Multiple reasons are at play: distrust in the government, individuals spreading misinformation, and also a lack of awareness about the potential consequences."
According to Jellesma, there are indeed childcare centers that refuse unvaccinated children. However, he sees education as the solution. De Jong also hopes that through education, people will realize that not vaccinating is not a form of resistance against the government. "Unlike the COVID vaccination, these vaccines are aimed at protecting our children, not just combating a pandemic. I think people need to realize that."
Source: Read the original article (in Dutch) by Jesler Bos for at5.nl here.
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