Called to give an up-to-date overview on the measles epidemic currently threatening Europe, health boss Francisco George upped the ante yesterday, criticising the “bizarre and hippie” attitude of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
Talking to MPs in parliament, George said that the number of confirmed measles cases nationwide has now increased by one, to 25 – the last person to have been infected being a doctor.
Nonetheless, there are another 95 cases now under analysis. Last week, George only cited 15.
Yet even though he continued to hammer home the dangers of parents making decisions for children that were effectively against the children’s best interests (“it is neither understandable or comprehensible”), George also stopped short of recommending that the measles vaccine (a triple shot, including immunisation against mumps and Rubella) be made obligatory.
That decision is one that has to be taken by parliament – and by all accounts, the government is not interested.
Hidden in this latest ‘scare’ is the fact that in Portugal at least “half the cases of measles (registered since January) have been in medical health professionals”, reports Correio da Manhã.
Almost all these professionals should have been previously vaccinated.
Another little known fact is that more than half the confirmed cases (64%) have been in adults, adds CM.
Meantime, a number of associations “linked to health” have created a national vaccination movement, “with the objective of alerting people to the importance of protecting against pneumonia”, says the paper.
The thrust of the movement is to encourage people to seek further vaccination, in the form of an anti-pneumonia shot, administered free to high-risk groups, which – according to Público – include children, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, smokers, diabetics, heart patients, those infected with HIV, asthmatics, people with liver problems and those with ‘obstructive chronic lung disease’.