Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, has lent her support to the World Health Organisation’s Europe Immunisation Week; a seven day campaign to highlight the importance of vaccines in preventing fatal diseases, such as measles, and saving lives.
This year’s campaign marks the 10th anniversary of Europe being polio-free, a reminder of how high immunisation coverage can control the spread of disease, yet nearly 700,000 people across Europe are without basic vaccinations. There are also concerns that Europe’s efforts to wipe out measles by 2015 are in jeopardy following a series of epidemics in Western Europe in 2010.
In London, Jean’s constituency, the proportion of children vaccinated lags far behind the rest of the country and has done so for many years. In 2009, only 85 per cent of London’s children had received the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccination compared to 94 per cent of children across the country, whilst one in four children in London had not received the measles vaccine .
Speaking at the beginning of the week, Jean said: “The European Immunisation Week serves as an excellent reminder that immunisation continues to be the best weapon to stop the progress of an infectious disease, and, more importantly, to eradicate it. We know from history that diseases such as measles, polio, diphtheria and meningitis do not recognise borders.
“Immunisation saves millions of lives each year and is surely one of the most cost-effective health investments that society can make, even when money is tight. Member States must now place an emphasis on providing accurate, balanced and understandable information about the risks of disease and the benefits of vaccination . They must ensure they reach out to those groups with traditionally low vaccination rates , many of whom suffer discrimination or social exclusion if we are to finally do away with those illnesses that senselessly claim the lives of so many. Immunisation is a priority for the EU: we should not being seeing any child left without access to this basic healthcare within out own borders. “