A Croatian court has upheld a mandate that all children born in Croatia must be vaccinated against multiple diseases, including measles, whooping cough, hepatitis, and diphtheria. Since Croatia established its first vaccine requirements in 1999, the mandate has been expanded to cover nine diseases in total, with significant public health impacts: Diphtheria, measles, and whooping cough have disappeared completely and there has been a 97 percent decrease in tetanus, a 93 percent decrease in tuberculosis, and a 65 percent decrease in hepatitis B.
In past years, however, a growing anti-vaccine movement has led some Croatian parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated, due to concerns that the vaccines themselves pose a threat to children’s health. In 2012, 28 children were not vaccinated, and in 2013, 143 children were not vaccinated.
A study composed of 29 countries in Europe showed that 15 countries do not make vaccinations mandatory, and 14 had at least one law, though those laws were often not enforced.
The Croatian court released a statement saying, “The child’s right to health is more than the rights of parents to the (wrong) choice.” With the court’s decision to uphold the mandate, “Croatia is setting the global standard for intelligent, evidence-based public health,” infectious-disease specialist Kent Sepkowitz wrote on The Daily Beast.
Jeff Akst, “Croatia Extends Vaccine Mandate,” The Scientist, March 27, 2014, http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/39569/title/Croatia-Extends-Vaccine-Mandate/.
Kent Sepkowitz, “Thank You, Croatia: All Hail Mandatory Vaccinations,” The Daily Beast, March 27, 2014, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/27/thank-you-croatia-all-hail-mandatory-vaccinations.html.
Student Researcher: Stephanie Howard (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)