Thousands of people in Warsaw, Poland marched in protest to forced vaccinations of children earlier this month in observation of International Vaccine Injury Awareness Day on June 3, 2018.1 2 Poland’s childhood vaccination schedule requires a total of 11 vaccinations, including vaccinations against tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), measles, mumps, rubella and pneumococci.3 4 5
Under Polish law, parents who refuse to adhere to the vaccination schedule are given a warning. If they subsequently refuse to vaccinate their children they are fined the equivalent of approximately $2,665 for each vaccination missed—up to a total of about $13,325.5
Despite these fines, more Poles are refusing to vaccinate their kids. Last year, over 30,000 parents and others responsible for the care of children in Poland turned down vaccines for their kids. That is 24 percent more than in 2016 and 89 percent more than in 2010.5 6 “In recent years, an increasing number of parents have challenged [the] legal requirement [for childhood vaccinations] and refused or delayed vaccination against certain diseases,” notes epidemiologist Paweł Stefanoff, MD, PhD of Poland’s National Institute of Public Health.7 8
One of the reasons a growing number of parents in Poland are avoiding vaccinating their children is concern about the safety of childhood vaccines. According to a report by Poland’s IAR news agency, cited by Radio Poland, adverse reactions to vaccinations “occur on average in one of every 10,000 cases.”5
Dr. Stefanoff is uncertain about what is fueling this trend in vaccine hesitancy in Poland, but he thinks it may reflect a “global phenomenon of declining trust in authority.”7
2 Light a Candle for the Vaccine-damaged. International Vaccine Injury Awareness Day 3rd of June 2018. LightaCandle.eu.
3 National Institute of Public Health- National Institute of Hygiene. Immunization schedule. Szczepienia.pzh.gov.pl.
4 National Institute of Public Health- National Institute of Hygiene. Mandatory vaccinations in Poland – history and rationale. Szczepienia.pzh.gov.pl.
5 IAR. More parents refuse to immunise their children in Poland. Radio Poland Feb. 2, 2018.
6 National Institute of Public Health- National Institute of Hygiene. Increasing problem with vaccine hesitancy among Polish parents. Szczepienia.pzh.gov.pl.
7 Finnegan G. MMR Rates Fall in Poland—Despite Mandatory Vaccination Rules. Vaccines Today Jan. 18, 2018.
8 National Institute of Public Health- National Institute of Hygiene. Pawel Stefanoff. Szczepienia.pzh.gov.pl.