30% of Croatian Parents Reluctant to Vaccinate Their Children

By , 14 Mar 2017, 11:56 AM Lifestyle

Share this:

Studies show worrying extent of ignorance.

Disturbingly large share of Croatian parents, about 30 percent of them, demonstrate reluctance to vaccinate their children, with the largest share being present in Dalmatia, according to data from two scientific studies and from the Croatian Institute for Public Health, reports Index.hr on March 14, 2017.

More specifically, about 10.6 percent of parents would refuse vaccination if it were optional, while about 19.5 percent of them would refuse at least some of the vaccines. There are four factors with a major influence on parents’ attitudes – relatively young age, religiosity, tendency towards alternative medicine and tendency towards conspiracy theories.

According to a study published in 2016 in the Psychology, Health & Medicine journal by Anja Repalust, Sandra Šević, Stanko Rihtar and Aleksandar Štulhofer, the risk that a parent will refuse all or at least some of the vaccines is almost twice as high among young parents. Religiosity increases the risk by about 12 percent for each degree of intensity of religious practice, while a preference for alternative methods of treatment increases the possibility of vaccine refusal by almost 300 percent.

Štulhofer says that their study did not show that other factors have a significant impact on the decisions of parents. “The classic indicators that make people differ in their behaviour and attitudes, socio-demographic indicators such as education, age, gender and income, do not differ among the three groups – those who want to vaccinate their children, those who do not, and those who would accept only certain vaccines”, says Štulhofer. “However, even some of relevant factors are not very pronounced. For example, when it comes to religiosity, with each new level of religiosity, as measured by attending religious services, the risk increases by 12 percent. A stronger risk factor is the tendency towards alternative medicine”, he said.

“When all these factors are added together, they still do not explain much of the risk for rejection of vaccination. Numerous studies show that it is likely to be explained by the influence of social networks. People who find information on the internet, mainly through forums and various groups, are the least likely to accept vaccination. Wrong information, irrationalities and conspiracy theories are heavily present there”, he explained.

Anita Lauri Korajlija took part in another large-scale study. “Our findings show that the characteristics of those who would choose not to vaccinate their children are a pronounced tendency to believe in conspiracy theories, lower trust in medical authorities, and belief that health is a consequence of their own choices and behaviour. At the same time, they are more inclined to alternative health behaviours and they have less knowledge about vaccines and their side effects”, said Lauri Korajlija.

“The results show that the decision not to vaccinate their children is made in a belief that this is a way to care for the health of their child. However, this decision is in fact part of having no confidence in medical authorities, and of ignorance and belief in conspiracy theories of pharmaceutical industry. The question is whether these individuals are able to make an informed choice or are guided only by negative attitudes about vaccination, while ignoring the fact that, if we all acted that way, we would again be surrounded with diseases that have long since been eradicated thanks to vaccination”, said Lauri Korajlija.

Bernard Kaić, head of infectious disease epidemiology department of Croatian Institute for Public Health, says that the highest share of people opposing vaccination can be found in Split-Dalmatia County and Dubrovnik-Neretva County. “According to the latest data from 2015, vaccination level in Dubrovnik-Neretva County is at about 89 percent, and in Split-Dalmatia 86 percent. The average for Croatia is about 94 percent. Since then, the levels have probably fallen a bit”, said Kaić. “The consequences for the community immunity will not be immediately seen, they will accumulate over time”, he warned.

However, the first consequences can already been seen. Due to anti-vaccination theories, measles have returned to Croatia. To make things worse, the fourth largest party in Parliament is openly calling for end of mandatory vaccinations.

Photo of the day

From Croatia with Madness

Croatia Traffic Info

  • Traffic is heavy along the DC8 Adriatic road, on the roads in Istria and at the border crossings. Hold-ups are possible in roadwork areas. Roads are wet and slippery in Istria, in the mountain region Gorski kotar, in the central and north-western parts of the country and in the Croatian Littoral. Sections of the roads closed due to roadworks: -on the DC1 state road in Lučko (Zagreb) -on the DC6 state road, section Glina-Dvor border crossing; -on the DC502 Smilčić-Pridraga state road. Traffic is regulated by traffic signals/one road lane is free only: -on the DC1 state road in Knin until 14 July; -on the DC1 state road at Mostanje and on the section Sučević-Otrić. -on the DC8 Adriatic road on the section Zaton Doli-Bistrina; -on the DC66 Pula-Most Raša state road. With the sunny and dry weather, more and more cyclists and motorists are on the roads. Other vehicles (such as cars or trucks) should look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes and opening doors next to moving traffic. Check your mirrors and be aware of blind spots before turning. While at a stop sign or red light, make a complete stop in order to let bikers pass, and check for unseen riders. Respect the right of way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you. Cyclists are not immune to traffic violations: pay attention to red lights and practice arm signaling!
    Read more
  • Due to roadworks in Slovenia between Ptuj and the border crossing Gruškovje (Macelj) there are occasionally queues. Expect hold-ups especially during the weekend. Traffic is suspended at the border crossing Metković due to a system failure. Due to traffic density and occasional additional controls, during the day longer waiting times are possible at the border crossings with Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. At Harmica border crossing traffic is allowed for vehicles up to 7,5 tonnes only.
    Read more
  • All ferries and catamarans are operating according to the schedule.
    Read more

Photo galleries and videos