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【社評雙語道】反疫苗歪論禍害大 須立法強制接種

2019-04-15
■香港醫院管理局為高風險部門的醫護人員注射麻疹疫苗。 資料圖片■香港醫院管理局為高風險部門的醫護人員注射麻疹疫苗。 資料圖片

【原文】本港昨日再新增一宗確診麻疹個案,患者是一名菲律賓籍旅客,令今年麻疹個案宗數增至31宗。近年歐美、日本、東南亞相繼爆發麻疹疫情,下月復活節假期又是外遊高峰,政府短期內須對高風險人群加強接種保護,並加強在機場和邊境口岸的檢疫措施,減低病毒傳入本港的風險。麻疹在全球範圍內死灰復燃,是「疫苗無用論」誤導的惡果,特區政府須加強宣傳,以正視聽,積極考慮立法強制接種疫苗,保障市民健康。

麻疹近期在各地肆虐,港人外遊熱門地點日本今年首10周錄得304宗個案,已經超越去年總數。東南亞方面則疫情持續蔓延,世衛最新數字顯示,菲律賓已有超過2.2萬宗確診個案,333人死亡,受影響地區廣泛。本港有大量東南亞傭工,下月的復活節假期正值外傭回鄉高峰,疫症傳播的風險甚高。政府應馬上加強在各出入境口岸的防疫措施,為在機場等高風險地方工作的人員注射疫苗保護,提醒市民外遊注意衛生,呼籲僱主盡量安排外傭延遲回鄉,以減低疾病傳播的風險。

麻疹是一種高傳染性的疾病,如沒有接種疫苗,傳染率超過9成。隨茈球推廣疫苗注射,麻疹本已近乎銷聲匿跡。本港95%的市民都接種過兩劑疫苗,無須對疫情過分恐慌,不應一窩蜂搶購疫苗,以免造成資源浪費,增加防疫困難。

麻疹在全球範圍捲土重來,與反疫苗運動有密切關係。反疫苗者可能是基於宗教,或誤信疫苗副作用過大,寧可冒患病風險,也拒絕自己或子女接種疫苗。這種錯誤論調,助長麻疹迅速在全球蔓延。目前全球多國已立法強制兒童參與疫苗注射計劃。意大利議會通過法例,將10種疫苗劃入16 歲以下兒童強制接種計劃,家長必須在子女入學前,證明他們已完成所有疫苗接種,違者罰款 500 歐元和中止監護權。德國為打擊反疫苗運動,前年5月立法向拒絕為子女接種疫苗的家長罰款2,500歐元,子女也會被拒入託兒中心。法國去年起則將強制注射疫苗由3種增加至11種。

世界各國立法強制接種疫苗,目的是向民眾發出正確清晰的訊息,讓公眾明白,拒絕接種疫苗,令社會增加疫病爆發的風險,打疫苗是一種保障公眾安全的義務和責任,而非個人自由。反疫苗的聲音雖然未成為香港社會主流,但也出現苗頭,錯誤言論在社交媒體上此起彼落,甚至連一些明星藝人亦曾發表「疫苗無用論」,誤導效應十分大,容易以訛傳訛。

事實證明,減少接種疫苗令一些原本絕跡的疫病再度爆發,危害不容忽視。本港現時並無強制要求接種疫苗,成為保障公共衛生的一個漏洞,政府應該未雨綢繆,研究立法強制注射某些指定疫苗。強制注射的最大意義,在於保障市民個人健康和公共衛生,掃除反疫苗謬論的負面影響。 (摘錄自香港《文匯報》社評29-3-2019)

Mandatory vaccination necessary as anti-vax movement threatens public health

【譯文】Measles cases in Hong Kong have increased to 31 this year, as a visitor from the Philippines was confirmed to have contracted the disease yesterday. Multiple measles outbreaks have occurred in Europe, the United States, Japan, and other Southeast Asian countries in recent years. As the approaching Easter holidays tend to be peak travelling season, the government must accelerate vaccination in at-risk groups, and strengthen epidemiological surveillance at the airport and other boundary crossings, in order to minimise the number of imported cases. The resurgence of measles around the globe is a direct consequence of the misleading anti-vaccination conspiracy. For the sake of public health, it is necessary for the SAR government to set the record straight and raise public awareness. Mandatory vaccination against measles should also be actively considered.

As measles continues to wreak havoc around the world, Japan has already recorded 304 cases within the first 10 weeks of 2019, exceeding the total number of cases last year. Meanwhile, the disease is also spreading in Southeast Asia. According to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation, measles cases in the Philippines have now exceeded 20,000. Affected areas are widespread, and the death toll in the country has risen to 333. Given the large number of Southeast Asian domestic helpers currently living in Hong Kong, the risk of imported cases would be tremendous as they return home during the Easter holidays. The government should take action immediately to step up inspection and quarantine measures at boundary crossings. Vaccination should also be provided to those who work in high-risk locations like the airport. Outbound travellers should be reminded to maintain good personal hygiene, and employers should convince domestic helpers to delay trips home, so as to minimise the risk of transmitting the disease.

Being a highly contagious disease, the infection rate of measles for those who are not immunised is well over 90 per cent. However, the disease had nearly been eliminated when vaccination was widely promoted around the world.

As 95 per cent of the population in Hong Kong have received two doses of vaccine already, there is really no need to panic. Blindly scrambling for vaccines will only impose an extra burden on public health efforts, as precious resources go to waste.

The return of measles on a global scale is largely related to the anti-vaccination movement. Due to religious reasons or a misunderstanding which wrongfully magnified the side effects of vaccines, advocates of the anti-vaccination movement would rather bear the risk of catching diseases than to let their children or themselves get immunised. This misguided belief has fuelled the swift comeback of measles globally. Currently, many countries from around the world have made children immunisation programmes mandatory. For instance, the Italian parliament has decided to incorporate vaccinations against 10 diseases into the country's mandatory childhood vaccination programme. Parents of those who are under 16 must ensure that their children have received all vaccinations before school term opens. Failing to comply will cost them 500, and they will even face the possibility of losing the custody of their children. Meanwhile, Germany has enacted laws in May 2017 to penalise parents who refuse to let their children get vaccinated, in an attempt to fight back the anti-vax movement. Apart from a 2,500 fine, their children will be denied from entering child care centres. In France, the number of compulsory vaccines has also gone up from three to 11 last year.

By introducing compulsory vaccination, countries all over the world are sending out a clear message to people that refusing to get vaccinated increases the risk of disease outbreaks. Vaccination is a social obligation to protect public health, not an individual decision or freedom. Although anti-vaxxers are still outside of the mainstream in Hong Kong, there are already signs that the movement is on the rise. On social media platforms, blatantly wrong statements can be frequently seen, while some of the anti-vax claims are even made by local celebrities. The impact of such misleading information has been really large, and could be spread easily.

The harm of the anti-vaccination movement cannot be ignored, as previously eliminated diseases now return to haunt us when we turned our back to vaccines. The lack of mandatory vaccination in Hong Kong has become a loophole in the public healthcare system. The government should take timely precautionary measures, and study which vaccines are to be included in future compulsory immunisation programmes. The greatest purpose of such programmes is to safeguard public health, while fighting back against the misinformation brought by the anti-vaccine movement.■Jeffrey Tse (ywc_jeffrey@hotmail.com)

Exercise

1. 乙型肝炎

2. 德國麻疹

3. 流行性腮腺炎

4. 水痘

5. 小兒麻痹症

Answer

1. hepatitis B

2. rubella / German measles

3. mumps

4. chickenpox / varicella

5. polio

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