Build Trust, Not Jails, To Improve Immunization

News that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed a law that will put parents in jail who fail to vaccinate their children has sent ripples through the immunization community. The law also requires that children must have up-to-date immunization cards to attend school. 

Uganda is not alone. Other governments have taken similar approaches against parents who reject vaccination. Australia declared that parents would lose their welfare payments, while France and Belgium declared that parents could face jail time. 

However, the coercive Ugandan law is extreme and begs the question: Could the law increase the mistrust of vaccines in Uganda and other African countries? And, if so, could this seemingly bold step derail immunization programs?

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