Promised Nationwide Debate In France Over Vaccinations Turn Sour: Critics Say It’s Just Pro-Vaccine Propaganda

Nationwide French Debate Over Vaccinations Has Devolved Into Pro-Vaccine Indoctrination Attempt

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“To open up a can of worms.”

That’s a wonderful English language saying that is a bit difficult to translate. It’s just one of those weird, idiomatic phrases that English speakers from certain regions grew up with, and thus understand in their bones.

One definition is “to attempt to solve one problem that creates a cascade of other problems.”

That is a pretty apt description of what has befallen the French health minister following an attempt to pass off a vaccination indoctrination program as a “national discussion” on the subject.

The government and specifically the Ministry of Health is seeking to assuage parents’ growing doubts on vaccination, and to streamline rules that many people find confusing. But the French authorities seem to be a little shaky on the whole “debate” part of the concept of public debate. The project has already drawn skepticism from those it was meant to convince.

“There’s so much hypocrisy, it’s like tossing us a bone, but we know that the debate will be completely biased,” said Jacques Bessin, leader of a federation of patient groups that are skeptical of vaccines and favor natural solutions to health issues.

The French Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine has claimed the conversation will be open to all opinions, with “no taboo.” But an official with a group representing patients and health care professionals has already resigned in protest, calling the whole enterprise a charade, saying that it is biased in favor of vaccine promotion.

And if propagandizing the French populace in favor of vaccines is their goal, they’ve got their work cut out for them. Up to 20 percent of French people don’t support vaccinations, more than double the rate as recently as 2009. Many people blame the widespread skepticism on the clumsy way the government handled the worldwide flu pandemic that year.

But what should be especially heartening to those of us around the world who don’t buy into the whole vaccination money/propaganda machine is that doubts about vaccines among French healthcare professionals are even higher than those of the populace. A fourth of French GPs aren’t confident about the balance of risks and efficacy of vaccines. And less than half “felt confident” explaining to their patients why some vaccines contain adjuvants such as aluminum.

Other doctors have called into question the need for mass vaccination campaigns, like the one for the HPV vaccine calling for all boys and girls above a certain age to be vaccinated.

In all, it’s a good sign for the voices of reason and sanity that the French people are taking their government to task over their attempt to propagandize the public.

I bet that was a “boîte de vers” the French minister of health never sought to open.

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