Iceland Needs To Push Back Against Anti-Vaxxers, Says Epidemiologist - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland Needs To Push Back Against Anti-Vaxxers, Says Epidemiologist

Published January 20, 2016

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NIAID/Wikimedia Commons

Health officials have cautioned that education about vaccines needs to be increased in Iceland to combat the “anti-vax” movement.

Vísir reports that epidemiologist Haraldar Briem, addressing attendees of a vaccination conference at Harpa today, said that the anti-vaccination, or “anti-vax”, movement has been picking up steam over the past two years. Increased education of how vaccines work is necessary in order to push back against a very small, but very loud, group of people.

The percentage of Icelanders who vaccinate their children is very high, hovering between 90% and 95%. Despite this, there is still a need to do more. Þórólfur Guðnason, another epidemiologist, believes that actually engaging with anti-vaxxers is the best way to push back.

“I don’t think you should be too aggressive against these people,” he said. “You should try to listen and take part in the discussion; not come at them in a rage and take part in an endless war.”

Þórólfur has long been an advocate of stepping up vaccination efforts as a part of his capacity as the Head of Iceland’s Vaccination Programme, and there are good reasons for his concern. Mumps, for example, are still not uncommon in Iceland.

One effort towards increasing vaccinations last year – a proposed city-wide ban on unvaccinated children in kindergarten – was very soon rejected as being too radical and poorly thought-out.


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