Communication errors and lack of trust in the government: because Slovenia is a breeding ground for no vaxes

In the European Union where, as recalled by the President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen, one third of the population is not vaccinated against Covid, the hard core of the no vax finds fertile ground in Eastern countries or, in general, in the nations that joined the EU recently, between 2004 and 2013, or after the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the exception of Malta and Cyprus, islands that are distinguished by a satisfactory or even high rate of vaccination and which in fact have nothing to do with eastern countries.

A low vaccination rate, well below the EU average, is recorded in Slovenia, in which about 55% of the inhabitants are vaccinated with at least two doses (here the percentage exceeds 73%), and has therefore been pointed out by politicians and experts as an exporter of the virus in Italy, given the proximity of the two states and the at least 10,000 cross-border workers who cross the borders undisturbed every day. And the controls? Few, if any, which led the governor of Friuli Venezia Giulia and president of the Conference of Regions Massimiliano Fedriga, mindful of the closure of the border with Italy decided unilaterally by Slovenia in March 2020, to ask for more border checks. This request apparently fulfilled, given the announcement by the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza in the question time in the Chamber of December 1st. “We will strengthen controls on the border between Slovenia and Friuli Venezia Giulia”.

“We too could experience what happened in Bergamo”
An announcement, that of wanting to check the incoming green pass also on land borders, perhaps a little late, given that the epidemic in Slovenia finally seems to slow down its run after presumably having passed the peak of new infections this autumn. A wave that has had – and continues to have – dramatic consequences, with intensive care and ordinary wards saturated with Covid patients. Numbers so high as to lead to strong statements. “At this moment we would not be able to cope with a natural disaster or a major road accident with several people involved”, the statement of November 24 of the Undersecretary of Health Franc Vindišar. “We too could experience what happened in Bergamo”, the words of Health Minister Janez Poklukar instead. To make a comparison, in those days Slovenia recorded more than 3,000 new infections every day. A number that, if compared to the Italian population, would mean approximately 90,000 cases every 24 hours, a figure well above the approximately 15,000 cases recorded in recent days. On 1 December, Slovenian hospitals hosted 277 patients in intensive care and 830 patients in ordinary wards: as if in Italy we registered 8,310 patients in intensive care (on 1 December there were 686 people) and 24,900 hospitalized with symptoms in the medical area (the 1st December 5,248 people).

The government in the dock
According to experts, the high number of hospital admissions is mainly due to the low percentage of vaccinated people, a direct consequence of a large number of no vaxes, the presence of which must be sought for many reasons. One of these is the confirmation of the phenomenon, already observed elsewhere, of how the vaccination rate is lower in European countries where distrust of political leaders is higher. From a survey carried out in mid-November by the Valicon agency it emerges that only a fifth of the interviewees have confidence in the methods used by the Slovenian government in an attempt to combat the pandemic.

The government, led since March 3, 2020 or since the beginning of the pandemic for the third time in the last 17 years by long-time conservative politician Janez Janša, is not without blame, especially with regard to communication that is often not too coherent. Slovenia in mid-May 2020 was the first European nation to officially declare the end of the epidemic, except to re-announce the beginning during last autumn and, declare its end for the second time on 15 June 2021, without then reintroducing the state of emergency during the fourth wave, the strongest recorded so far in the country. A “false idea” of a narrow escape has therefore filtered out, similar to what has also happened in other Eastern countries, given that Romania also distinguished itself at the beginning of the year for having proclaimed the “defeat” of the pandemic, in addition to having defined his own vaccination campaign, with 30% of the immunized population, a “success”. Communication to Slovenian citizens was also problematic due to the various occasions in which the government and the local scientific technical committee or experts disagreed publicly on the measures to be taken, which led to heated controversies and the double resignation of the first epidemiologist of the country Mario Fafangel, who boasts, among other things, a degree in medicine from the University of Trieste.

Socialism and Yugoslavia
A study, published in April by Joan Costa-i-Font (London School of Economics), Jorge García-Hombrados (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) and Anna Nicinska (University of Warsaw), also directly correlates poor adherence to the vaccination campaign in the East with “the habit of distrusting public institutions developed during communism”. Slovenia, independent since 1991, has known Yugoslav socialism for many years, during which an exemplary case of mass vaccination campaign emerged, namely that against smallpox in 1972. This is mentioned in an article signed by Milan Krek, director of the NIJZ (the Slovenian Higher Institute of Health), in which he recalls how at the time there was no choice between getting vaccinated and not vaccinated with the consequent vaccination in a very short period of time for 18 million people in the entire area of ​​the former Yugoslavia, of which 1.5 million in Slovenia, a country that currently has around 2 million inhabitants. “Now the vaccine is not compulsory and for the first time since independence we have such a high number of adhesions,” explains Krek, who also points out that Slovenians have historically been reluctant to vaccinations of any kind. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 19% of Slovenians over 65 took part in the 2019 flu vaccination campaign, while for example in Italy in the same year the percentage settled at 55% .

Demonstrations and fake news
Part of the reasons for a low vaccination rate must therefore be attributed to a fair percentage of inhabitants who are difficult to convince, not only of the effectiveness of the vaccine, but also of the danger of Covid. A slice of the population is in fact reluctant to accept and respect the measures put in place by the government to limit the spread of the infection. In fact, before Italy, Slovenia introduced the mandatory green pass for access to workplaces, which led to tense “no green pass” events in Ljubljana already in mid-September, a month earlier than the first protests. of the port of Trieste. The scenes of the Slovenian police intervening with fire hydrants and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd anticipated by about 30 days what was later also seen in Italy. Events that saw many no vax protagonists, skilled in spreading fake news online, in some cases in a very credible way. In fact, the creation of a web page with a professional graphic aspect,, which literally means Slovenian doctors, stands out, in which articles are presented, published by medical specialists in different fields – but not by virologists, immunologists or epidemiologists – who invite readers to be wary of the vaccine, emphasize the harmfulness of the masks – especially if worn by children – or promote the use of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin to treat Covid.

People willing to pay homeless people to get vaccinated for them
And it is precisely the health personnel in some cases who do not set a good example. The University Clinic of Ljubljana registered 139 unvaccinated doctors and dentists out of a total of 1498 (about 9%) on 25 October, with a much higher percentage no vax among nurses and nurses of the same hospital, among which 1235 registered non vaccinated on 3672 employees (about 33%). The distrust of the vaccine in a part of the population is such that the portal has discovered illegal trafficking in people, ready to pay some homeless people from 150 to 350 euros to get vaccinated for them and thus obtain the green. passed without having the serum inoculated. It seems that some homeless people have received four or even seven doses of vaccine in some vaccination centers where no one verified the identity of the people, as it was enough to show only the health card of the “alleged” vaccinated.
Last but not least, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court have made life difficult for the government in the fight against Covid. The first froze the ordinance with which the government attempted to introduce the obligation of the “strengthened” green pass for state employees who could only go to the workplace if vaccinated or cured of Covid. The second instead established that “there are no legal grounds” to justify the sanctions against those who do not wear a mask indoors.

Source: L'Espresso – News, inchieste e approfondimenti Espresso by

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