30% of Croatian Parents Reluctant to Vaccinate Their Children

By , 14 Mar 2017, 11:56 AM Lifestyle

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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.

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  • Due to smoke and reduced visibility on the A1 motorway between Gospić and Sveti Rok junctions the driving speed has to be reduced to 80 km/h. During the day difficulties can be expected in roadwork areas. On the A6 Rijeka-Zagreb motorway one lane is free only in Vršek and Lučice tunnels (on the section Ravna Gora-Delnice) in direction Rijeka tonight (23 March) 10pm-6am. In Učka tunnel in Istria one lane is free only every night 10pm-6am till 24/25 March. Tonight (23 March) 8pm-5am traffic is suspended on the A2 Zagreb-Macelj motorway between Trakošćan and Krapina junctions in both directions, detour: DC1 state road. Drivers are invited to keep distance and to adjust the speed to road conditions. The headlights have to be on during the day as well. One lane is free only/traffic is flowing in reduced lanes on the following motorways:-A1 Zagreb-Split-Ploče at Božići viaduct in both directions, in Sveti Rok tunnel in both directions till 24 March (driving speed limit of 80 km/h); -A2 Zagreb-Macelj between Zaprešić and Zabok junctions 20th-18th km in both directions; -A3 Bregana-Lipovac between Kutina and Novska junctions 118th-121st km in both directions; -A4 Zagreb-Goričan at Kraljevečki Novaki junction 93rd-94th km in both directions, in Hrastovec tunnel in both directions; -A6 Rijeka-Zagreb at Svilno viaduct 78th-80th km between Orehovica and Čavle junctions in each direction till 1 June, on the section Vrata junction-Vrata tunnel in direction Rijeka till 24 March; -Rijeka detour road in the exit lane of Rujevica junction in direction Rupa; -A8 in Istria on the section Lupoglav-Učka tunnel. Roadworks on the A4 Zagreb-Goričan motorway (Zagreb detour road): - till 9 June traffic is suspended in the entrance lane of Kraljevečki Novaki from direction Sesvete and Dugo Selo towards Ivanja Reka junction, there is a local detour; - till 26 April traffic is suspended in the exit lane of Popovec junction from direction Goričan towards Popovec, detour for direction Vrbovec-Popovec: Sveta Helena junction (A4)-Sveta Helena-DC3 Goričica-Belovar-Žerjavinec-Soblinec-Popovec junction, for direction Goričan (A4)-Sveta Helena: Komin junction (A4)-DC3-Sveti Ivan Zelina-Donja Zelina-Žerjavinec-Soblinec-Popovec. Lepenica rest area (at 57th km) on the A6 Rijeka-Zagreb motorway is closed till 15 June, the previous rest area and petrol station is the one Ravna Gora (at 30th km), the next one Cernik-Čavle (17,8 km away from Lepenica). Due to roadworks traffic is suspended: -on the DC1 state road in Lučko and Stupnik (Zagreb); -on the DC8 Adriatic road at Posedarje till 10 April; -on the DC6 state road, section Glina-Dvor border crossing, detour: Glina (DC37)-Petrinja-Hrvatska Kostajnica-Dvor; -on the DC25 Lički Osik-Karlobag state road (at 40th km) 8am-3pm till 24 March. Traffic is regulated by traffic signals/one road lane is free only:-on the DC1 state road at Tušilović and Mostanje; -on the DC1 Sinj-Klis Grlo state road at Dicmo; -on the DC8 Adriatic road at Poličnik, on the section Kaštel Stari-Kaštel Gomilica, at Podstrana, on the section Zaton Doli-Bistrina, at Srebreno; -on the DC66 Pula-Most Raša state road; -on the DC75 Poreč detour road, section Vrvari-Bijela; -on the DC62 Veliki Prolog-Metković state road at Most Metković. 15 November 2016-15 April 2017 winter equipment is mandatory on the winter sections of the state roads in Croatia (it includes four winter tyres or four summer tyres with chains ready for use).
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