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Stephen Harper On Vaccines: Don't Indulge Non-Scientific Theories

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 27:  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not seen) after their meeting in the chancellery, Berlin, Germany on March 27, 2014. (Photo by Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 27: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not seen) after their meeting in the chancellery, Berlin, Germany on March 27, 2014. (Photo by Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

In a rare interview that saw Stephen Harper speak out on issues that affect families personally, the Prime Minister gave a definitive response about vaccinating children — and people who are choosing not to do so.

“It's hard for me not to get very emotional about this because we know, we scientifically know, what vaccinations and immunizations have done for us, personally, in our generation and for generations after us,” he told CBC's Hannah Thibedeau.

The prime minister was speaking to the network on the occasion of the government's summit on maternal, newborn and child health, which has been held in Toronto throughout this week.

As part of the "simple" interventions being touted by the summit, vaccinating children played a large role. This advice echoes that of the World Health Organization, which estimates 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die each year from diseases that could be avoided with vaccinations, including polio and pneumonia.

For Harper, however, this issue is even closer to home, as Canada saw a rise in measles cases in 2014, including one area of B.C. that included more than 400 people affected with the disease, reports CTV. The cause was determined to be a lack of vaccinations in the region, as it was for the many other cases across the country.

Measles is a potentially fatal disease for young children and those with compromised immune systems, and preventable with two shots administered from 12 to 15 months, and 18 months to four years old.

Melinda Gates, who spoke at the summit as head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said it's the responsibility of parent to vaccinate their children, and people should realize the benefits of vaccines.

"We so take advantage, take for granted, vaccines in the U.S. or in Canada, that we forget what those diseases were, and what a scourge they were, to children before," she told CBC.

In the wake of many medical professionals calling for a national registry for those who are vaccinated, Harper is very much behind the push to have every Canadian protected.

"Don't indulge your theories, think of your children and listen to the experts," he said.

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