Western Balkans

The #EU Protects campaign addresses second thoughts about vaccination through stories of ordinary people

12/11/2019 - 10:45

In Europe, vaccines have protected us from infectious diseases like measles, mumps or whooping cough for almost a century. When most people are vaccinated, it shields the rest of the community from infection – particularly the youngest or those suffering from a severe immune deficiency. Yet fake news and disinformation have fed a hesitancy among parents to vaccinate their children. In spring 2019, North Macedonia was listed by the World Health Organisation among the nine countries in the European region where the cases of measles require a better response

In 2012, Europe was hit with a whooping cough outbreak. Marie-Pierre watched her infant son deteriorate rapidly after contracting the terrible disease. He died before he was old enough to get vaccinated. In a campaign launched by the EU, Marie-Pierre and other parents are speaking out about the risks of not vaccinating. These parents are not alone.  

In the video, also meet the public health authorities, experts and doctors across Europe who are working together to save lives by promoting vaccination.


Marie-Pierre Lempire, community speaker, Belgium

“When our son Raphaël was born, he was healthy. But after a few weeks, he started coughing and had difficulty breathing. The hospital doctors told us Raphaël had whooping cough, and that he wasn’t likely to survive. After 2 terrible nights in intensive care, he died in our arms.”
“He became sick just a few days before he was due to have his first vaccine. The vaccine would’ve protected him.”

Dr Brigitte Autran, Faculty of Medicine, Sorbonne University, France

“Vaccines have protected us against serious illnesses for almost 100 years. Experts like me have been evaluating these vaccines for just as long – without seeing serious side effects.”
“According to EU safety requirements, it can take around 12 years to develop a new vaccine.  In France, as in any other EU country, development and testing of vaccines follows the same process. During the evaluation process, we ask EU medical agencies and public health experts to check whether side effects have been reported anywhere in Europe, or even internationally.”

Andrea Würz, German, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Sweden

“Online disinformation travels fast. That’s why we help EU countries respond to the vaccination concerns and needs of their citizens. Our monthly measles and rubella monitoring reports, and other publications, help public health professionals, including doctors, in any EU country strengthen their immunisation programmes and prevent future disease outbreaks. Thanks to our reports, as well as expert advice, public health professionals have the most up-to-date information on vaccines, and doctors can communicate better with patients.”

Dr Gindrovel Dumitra, European Union of General Practitioners, Romania

“My door is always open to parents and their children. In my village, I’ve met so many people who were worried about the side effects of vaccines. It’s my responsibility to convince them to vaccinate their children against highly infectious diseases.”
“Through the EU’s expert groups, I’ve been able to share my immunisation work with colleagues in France, Poland, Italy and other European countries facing similar situations.”

Marinela Diaconu, resident of Craiova, Romania

“In the newspapers, on Facebook, on TV – a lot of people were expressing concerns about vaccines. That’s why I was afraid to vaccinate my children.”
“I went to my doctor to get more information. Dr Dumitra told me about the benefits of vaccination, like developing antibodies. He told me about the risks if my children didn’t get vaccinated: they could get an infectious disease and spread it to other children.”
“I didn’t want to take a decision without being well informed. Now, I would recommend that every mother vaccinates her baby.”

Did you know?

42,000 is the number of cases of whooping cough (pertussis) reported in the EU/EEA in 2017. The usual number is much lower – around 20,000. The most vulnerable group are infants who are too young to receive the vaccine.

35 is the number of deaths due to measles in the EU in 2018. That year more than 12,000 people in the EU caught measles, despite the fact that an effective measles vaccine has existed since the 1960s.

21.1 million is the number of fatalities prevented worldwide thanks to the measles vaccine between 2000 and 2017.

95% is statistically the percentage of the population that must be vaccinated against measles to protect the entire community, including those too young or fragile to get vaccinated. When enough of the population is vaccinated, the disease is unlikely to spread. This phenomenon is called ‘community immunity’.

48% is the percentage of EU citizens who believe, incorrectly, that vaccines often produce serious side effects. Check your sources and get answers to all of your vaccine-related questions: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/immunisation-vaccines/childhood-vaccination/faq


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