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Poll: Many in Finland want financial penalties for vaccine refusal

Residents would strip anti-vaxxers of child benefits and public daycare, reports Uutissuomalainen, a news conglomerate, on the heels of Finland’s measles scare.

Avaamaton MPR-rokote lähikuvassa.
Avaamaton MPR-rokote lähikuvassa. Image: Jari Kovalainen / Yle

Some 43 percent of respondents said they wanted pediatric vaccinations to become mandatory, according to a survey commissioned by local news conglomerate Uutissuomalainen.

A quarter of those polled said Finland’s national insurer Kela should suspend monthly child benefit payments to parents of unvaccinated children. This group also wanted to refuse unvaccinated kids from entering publicly funded daycare.

Another 20 percent said they would like to see financial support, such as an extra child benefit payment, for parents whose kids’ immunisations are up to date. About half of those favouring the idea of compulsory vaccinations were over the age of 45.

Carrot vs stick

When news emerged that a young unvaccinated child in the Finnish region of Ostrobothnia had contracted measles at the end of last year, Finland's Minister of Education Sanni Grahn-Laasonen proposed making children's vaccination a condition for the payment of state child and family benefits, saying the country had to find more effective ways to secure proper vaccine coverage.

In some western coastal areas, only 75 percent of the population has received the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, significantly below the required 95 percent needed for herd immunity.

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Annika Saarikko has, however, argued that making immunisations obligatory would likely increase ideological opposition to vaccinations.

Pollster Tietoykkönen interviewed 1,000 people last month. The poll's margin of error is +/- 3 percent.

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