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7 Apr, 2019 03:09

Crusade against anti-vaxxers: Russian Health ministry & consumer rights watchdog lead the charge

Crusade against anti-vaxxers: Russian Health ministry & consumer rights watchdog lead the charge

Russia is witnessing an anti-vaccination propaganda wave of alarming proportions and it poses a serious public health threat, the Health Ministry has warned, as it put forward a bill that would ban public calls against vaccines.

The sheer number and variety of anti-vaccination websites, social media groups, religious sects and even some media have become a conduit to “unreliable” information that “undermines public trust in vaccination” and thus renders the preventive immunization measures ineffective, deputy health minister Tatiana Yakovleva said in a statement. The scale of the problem has now prompted Russian health authorities to draft a bill that would ban any public calls on people to avoid vaccination.

Also on rt.com New York county bars unvaccinated minors from public places amid measles outbreak

The draft legislation envisages punishment for those violating the ban, although the nature of the punitive measures is yet unknown. The ministry’s initiative has already received support from the Russian consumer watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, which has also expressed its concerns about the “global rise of the anti-vaxxers’ lobby.”

The watchdog dismissed anti-vaxxers’ fears –about the supposed harm of vaccination– as generally biased and subjective. The opponents of vaccination accuse governments of siding with the big pharma to conceal the dangers of the shots, which, they claim, are killing thousands of children every year.

Also on rt.com ‘I will never get over feeling I killed my son’: Anti-vaccination activists refuse to be 'silenced’

Rospotrebnadzor advised, however, that the law should be amended to require a more extensive medical examination of children before vaccination, to avoid any unfortunate side-effects. In addition, it suggested expanding the list of jobs that require mandatory vaccination and tightening-up of sanitary norms for migrants entering Russian territory.

The Russian State Duma’s Health Committee is holding a roundtable on the issue on April 11, after which, its head Leonid Ogul said, he would not “rule out” amending the existing laws. Back in 2017, the Health Ministry rejected the idea of punishing parents that refuse to vaccinate their children, instead opting for more extensive “awareness-raising activities.” Now, however, it’s mulling the idea of taking punitive measures against doctors who discourage parents from vaccinating their children.

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The issue of anti-vaccination groups sprawling around the globe recently came under the spotlight following an unprecedented outbreak of measles in both developed and developing nations, and was to a large extent blamed on anti-vaxxers by the UN children’s body. Russia has also seen a rise in cases of measles, which hit several regions, including the capital Moscow as well as St. Petersburg, the southern region of Dagestan and some Siberian cities.

In mid-March, Italy banned unvaccinated children from public schools and introduced fines against their parents. A New York county went even further and barred unvaccinated minors from public places, citing the same measles outbreak.

Also on rt.com Anti-vax movement among TOP THREATS to global health, with HIV & Ebola, WHO says

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