Alderman Simone Kukenheim starts with the good news: the decline in the percentage of children who get vaccinated has stopped. For years, fewer and fewer Amsterdam children have been vaccinated, but 2019 saw a very slight increase for the first time.
The bad news is that Amsterdam is still at the bottom of the rankings for municipalities with the lowest vaccination coverage. This needs to change, says Cockenheim: “Especially now that the issue is at the top of the agenda because of Corona, it is important to increase the number of vaccinations so that diseases and viruses do not spread further. Vaccination is more than Covid.”
What is striking are the big differences between the different neighborhoods. For example, the percentage of 14-year-old girls who were vaccinated against HPV – the virus that can cause cervical cancer, among others – is 66 in Oud-Zuid, while in Geuzenveld / Slotermeer this is 17, the lowest score in the Netherlands. Among girls of Moroccan descent, the HPV vaccination rate is 10.4 percent, and among girls of Turkish origin, 13.8 percent. In comparison, 64.7 percent of non-immigrant girls were vaccinated against HPV.
The number of HPV vaccines has risen sharply across Amsterdam, from 36 per cent in 2018 to 42.5 per cent in 2019. However, Amsterdam still has the lowest HPV vaccination rate in the country.
The percentage of young children in Amsterdam who have not been vaccinated against DPTP and hepatitis B falls below the minimum target value of 90 percent. Here, too, the West and New West regions take off in a negative way. According to a young doctor from GGD Amsterdam, this is not without risks. “The likelihood of an outbreak is increasing, with very young children being vaccinated at risk: they are not yet immune.”
The motives of those who reject vaccination
Research indicates that the reasons for not vaccinating children are often more practical than basic. It is often indicated that people have forgotten when the injection was due, or it did not work out well, and sometimes they simply did not see the need. So, there is not enough urgency. While vaccination is not only about your health, it is also about the health of society, ”says Cockenheim.
This is why it wants the municipality to do more to convince people as well as “in-depth research” about the motivations of the vaccine rejecters. The advisor calls this “targeted intervention”. “If you talk to them, you also know what it takes to vaccinate children. Sometimes it is as simple as changing the location in which they are being drilled, so that it gives them less time to travel. Sometimes better communication and education can help. Sometimes people have objections of a nature.” Basic religious. Then we will discuss this with them. ”
In the Netherlands, children receive vaccinations against a dozen infectious diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough and human papillomavirus.
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