Friday, July 5, 2013


Dutch health care service offers anonymous vaccinations for religious parents.

The so-called Dutch "Bible Belt"

THE HAGUE, July 5 - Dutch regional health centers (GGD) offer anonymous vaccinations against the measles epidemic to parents,who are against vaccinations for their babies out of religious considerations,GGD doctor Frits Woonink told local media Friday.

In a letter to the parents the GGD has offered to pay them a visit instead of letting the children come to the regional health centers.

According to Woonink this method is quite effective, although "the number of children being vaccinated now has not significantly increased", Woonink said.

Since late May,a measles epidemic has broken out in the so-called Dutch "Bible Belt", a strip of land mainly inhabited by conservative reformed Christians.

Local outbreak of the measles, an infection of the respiratory system, was reported around reformatory schools in the Land of Heusden and Altena region, the Bommelerwaard and the Alblasserwaard.

In addition, patients were reported in the provinces of Zeeland, Utrecht and the rural area in the Randstad.

Most Dutch people are vaccinated against measles through the national vaccination program,which was introduced in 1976 to protect all children at the age of 14 months and at the age of 9 years against measles.

However, some people living in the Bible Belt choose not be vaccinated against diseases out of religious considerations.

"There is a phrase in the Bible which says intervening is against the will of god," Roel Coutinho, director of the RIVM Centre for Infectious Disease Control, earlier told.

"Therefore, people choose to let themselves and their children not be vaccinated. We are talking about several thousands of unvaccinated children currently at risk of getting measles," Coutinho said.

Minister of Health Edith Schippers told local media last week that she finds it " irresponsible" that parents don't let their children get vaccinated against measles.

She encouraged parents to reconsider their decision, but added that people "cannot be forced, because we live in a free country."

In addition, Schippers decided last week that at least 10.000 babies in the Dutch regions where the measles epidemic has broken out could get vaccinated before they reach 14 months.

So far, more than 230 patients with measles have been reported. The actual number is probably much higher because not all patients have attended the doctor.
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