Estonia's anti-vaccination movement worries government

More and more Estonian parents are refusing to vaccinate their children and even doctors are beginning to advise against vaccines. The situation has become critical enough to require intervention from the government.

Marian Männi
Marian Männi Eesti Ekspress, Estonia
Source: Eesti Ekspress
Estonia's anti-vaccination movement worries government - NewsMavens
Syringe. Pixabay

Why this story matters:

According to World Health Organisation standards, at least 95% of children should be vaccinated, and family doctors should aim for similar figures with their own patients.

But in Estonia, the majority of doctors fall short of that goal. In fact, some appear not to be trying.

Many parents are disinclined to vaccinate their children because they fear health consequences, or believe that vaccination is part of the pharmaceutical lobby. These are matters to be discussed with a GP, who can dismiss unfounded concerns and show the proven benefits of treatment.

But what if your doctor doesn't believe in vaccination?

There have been cases when nurses and general practitioners advise against vaccination. Some medical professionals don't vaccinate their own children. 

In Estonia, vaccination is not mandatory, and there is no national communication strategy about the dangers of insufficient immuniziation, but this year the Social Ministry allocated funds for more campaigns on the topic.

The country could potentially follow Italy's example and make vaccinations a pre-requisite for enrolling children in schools, but many Estonians feel that imposing the treatment would polarize communities further. For now, the government is betting on dialogue. But, with the amount of misinformation going around social media, they will need to work hard to ensure their message is heard.


Details from the story:

  • As per WHO guidelines, Estonia aims to get at least 95% of children vaccinated. At this rate, the remaining 5% is also protected.
  • More than half of Tallinn's general practitioners fall short of this percentage.
  • One suburb stands out. In Telliskivi, a fashionable region in the capital of Tallinn, a third of children weren't vaccinated against mumps, measles and rubella (MMR vaccination) last year.
  • The doctors in that area are known for practicing alternative medicine. "We cannot force the parents," they say in their defense.
  • Estonia's government agency Health Board has been keeping an eye on Telliskivi for years. They warn of contagion risks if too many children who haven't been vaccinated live in one area.
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