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Measles transmitted by doctors: "There is an ethical duty to do everything not to endanger his patients"

INTERVIEW For Christophe Prudhomme, the spokesperson of the Association of Emergency Physicians of France (Amuf), it is necessary to organize catch-up vaccination campaigns for doctors

Interviewed by Estelle Maussion
Posted on 16/05/19 at 14h55 - Updated on 16/05/19 at 15h12

Normally, doctors should treat and not make sick. It happened the opposite in La Reunion. According to the Indian Ocean Regional Health Authority (ARS OI), two doctors, unvaccinated against measles, contaminated six people during consultations. The Agency arrived at this result after a survey to understand the sharp rise in one month in the number of measles cases on the island. 20 Minutes put three questions to Christophe Prudhomme, the spokesperson of the Association of Emergency Physicians of France (Amuf), to shed light on the situation.

What are the obligations of doctors regarding vaccination?

The law requires health workers to be vaccinated against four diseases: hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis. Influenza was on this list but was removed in 2006. Measles [such as chicken pox, whooping cough, rubella, and hepatitis A] is just one of the recommended vaccinations. Beyond mandatory vaccinations, there is an ethical duty to do everything possible not to endanger his patients. This, I believe, should lead practitioners to vaccinate against influenza and measles, among others.

Is this the first time that doctors transmit a disease to patients because they have not been vaccinated?

There have been previously rare cases of transmission of hepatitis B to patients by unvaccinated, disease-infected and undiagnosed physicians.

What can be done to prevent this from happening again?

The entry into force in early 2018 of the obligation to vaccinate infants against 11 diseases should solve the problem for future professionals. The difficulty remains for people already in practice. I think that we should organize catch-up campaigns for practitioners, especially since occupational health is having a hard time fulfilling its missions in the hospital environment. Few controls are made when hiring, for example. Vaccines divide within doctors as in the general population. But it must be remembered that a large vaccination coverage remains the best individual and collective protection against epidemics.

Pour Christophe Prudhomme, le porte-parole de l’Association des médecins urgentistes de France (Amuf), il faut organiser des campagnes de vaccination de rattrapage pour les médecins