Will immunizations be required for entering preschool?

Making immunizations a prerequisite for entering preschool is an idea being discussed in Reykjavík and nearby Hafnarfjörður, Morgunblaðið reports. The idea was brought up by Reykjavík City Council Member Hildur Björnsdóttir of the Independence Party. She states that many European nations have adopted such a rule.

The spread of measles in European countries has been much discussed in the media lately. The number of cases in the World Health Organization’s European region has gone from 5,273 in 2016 to 23, 927 in 2017. For the first half of this year, the cases have hit a record high, or more than 41,000.

“It will be interesting to see how the idea is received by other parties,” Hildur remarks. She states that people in general have received her idea well. “Of course there are always some who are opposed, but those are in fact very few.”

“I think the reason for the increased number of children who are not immunized is not that the number of those opposed to immunizing their children is on the rise, but rather, that people just forget about it. Health clinics have attempted to increase management, follow-up and education, but parents have still failed to react. More is needed,” she emphasizes.

When asked about the implementation of such a requirement, she responds she hopes it will be done online in a simple manner.

Ágúst Bjarni Garðarsson, from the Progressive Party, who is a member of the municipal council of Hafnarfjörður, stated yesterday that he believes it is worth looking into making immunizations a requirement for entering preschool in the town.

“I think it’s wise looking into taking this course. It could also work as an incentive. A report, written by the director of the Center for Disease Control, states that people aren’t skipping the immunizations on purpose, but that they have for some reason been forgotten about,” Ágúst remarked.

“I wanted to initiate a discussion on this,” he added. “I find the reaction positive, and I’ve received messages and phone calls. Still, this is yet to be discussed in the municipality.” According to him, both the Independence Party and the Progressive Party are positive toward engaging in a discussion on the matter.

On Facebook yesterday, Líf Magneudóttir, Reykjavík City Council member of the Left Green Movement, voiced the opinion that the suggestion should come from the director of the Center for Disease Control before such a plan is implemented. Hildur responded that he had appeared in the media, voicing his concern about the increasing number of children who are not immunized, about the spread of measles, and so on. This idea, Hildur stressed, could prevent parents from forgetting about having their children immunized.

According to Karen Elísabet Halldórsdóttir, municipal council member for the Independence Party in Kópavogur, a municipality may not have the legal right to deny unimmunized children access to preschool. She requested legal advice on the matter in 2016 and was told that the law would have to be amended for that to be possible.

“I think Alþingi [the Icelandic parliament] needs to take up the case to grant the municipalities this right,” Karen tells mbl.is.

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