Majority of Danes approve of sanctions for parents who do not vaccinate their children

Unvaccinated children should be barred from public schools and other institutions, majority argues

Half the Danish population believe that parents should be forced to vaccinate their children, according to a new survey conducted by YouGov for Metroexpress.

Six out of ten believe that children who are not vaccinated should not be allowed to attend public schools or be permitted in other publicly-operated institutions.

“It is a big problem that vaccination rates are so low,” Frej Klem Thomsen,  a researcher of the childhood vaccination program, told Metroxpress.

“Rates for measles [vaccinations] in 2015 were at least 13 percent too low.”

Thomsen believes “it is probably necessary” to apply pressure on anti-vaxxers.

“Once they have taken a position against vaccines, it is hard to change their minds,” she said.

A strong case for sanctions
Thomas Ploug, a member of the Etisk Råd ethics committee, said that a strong case can be made for mandatory vaccinations.

“When parents choose not to have their children vaccinated, they expose others to grave danger,” he said. “As a state, it makes sense to prohibit such action.”

Ploug did say that care should be taken to prevent “authorities getting carte blanche to forcibly treat children”.

Jacob Birkler, the clinical ethicist and former head of Etisk Råd, cautioned that forcing parents to vaccinate would make them even more adamant in their dissent.

“It is important that we consider the individual,” Birkler said.

READ MORE: Danish data shows measles vaccine halves child mortality rate

Venstre health spokesperson Jane Heitmann said that more children should be getting vaccinated, but not by force.

“For Venstre, it is important that vaccinations are voluntary,” she said. “We support information for parents so that they can make an informed choice for their children.”

Succumbing to the state
Liselott Blixt, the head of the parliamentary health board Folketingets Sundhedsudvalg and DF health spokesperson, is vehemently opposed to the idea of ​​mandatory vaccines.

“It completely amazes me that so many advocate coercion and punishment,” she said.

“I fear that it represents an incomprehensible willingness to sacrifice individual freedom in favour of the state’s wishes and demands.”