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France

French parents face jail for refusing to inoculate children

© Johanna Leguerre/AFP - Archive picture

Text by Tony TODD

Latest update : 2014-10-09

A French couple appeared in court Thursday for refusing to vaccinate their children against diphtheria, tetanus and polio - jabs which are compulsory under French law.

Samia and Marc Larère, from Auxerre in the Burgundy region in central France, are accused of deliberately mistreating their two children, aged three and 15 months.

They face a fine of 30,000 euros and up to two years in jail for refusing to allow their children to be inoculated.

"I'm ready to make a lot of sacrifices in order not to play Russian roulette with my children’s health," Marc Larère told France Info radio before Thursday's hearing.

The Larère parents’ gripe is not the vaccines themselves, but the additives in the jabs that improve their stability and performance, such as aluminium salts.

"This couple are not anti-vaccinations and they don't belong to a pressure group or sect," said their lawyer Emmanuel Ludot. "They are OK with vaccinations, but they are not OK with additives."

"I will do everything possible to have their case referred to the constitutional court to see if these vaccines must really be imposed on children," he added.

Barred from school

All French children are obliged to be inoculated against diphtheria, tetanus and polio (DTP). Until 2007, they were also required to be vaccinated against tuberculosis (BCG).

Beyond simply breaking the law, the Larères also risk their children being barred from education in France.

While BCG is no longer a legal requirement, many schools and nurseries will not accept children who have not had the jab.

Mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) jabs are not compulsory either, although doctors will strongly recommend parents to have their children inoculated.

France and Italy are the only western European countries that oblige parents to vaccinate their children for DTP.

Professor Daniel Floret, who heads France’s Technical Council for Vaccination (which reports to the health ministry), warned that failure to inoculate children could lead to the return of diseases once believed to be eradicated.

“Polio has come back to countries where it no longer existed, in Syria for example,” he told French daily le Figaro. “We know very well that if we stop inoculating children, these illnesses re-appear. Vaccination remains extremely useful.”

French Health Minister Marisol Touraine told iTélé on Thursday that France would not tolerate the Larère family’s refusal to inoculate their children.

“Freedom stops where public health begins,” she said.

Date created : 2014-10-09

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