Germany is getting serious about parents who refuse to vaccinate their children against measles. German Health Minister Jens Spahn has proposed a fine of up to €2,500 or the equivalent of $2800 USD for parents who refuse to vaccinate their school-age children, CNN reports.
Stating that he wants to "eradicate measles" in an interview with a German newspaper, Spahn stated that children attending kindergartner should be required to be vaccinated and that parents would be required to show proof or risk being subjected to fines. He also said that children who aren't vaccinated could be denied entry to school or daycare. Spahn said that the point of the proposed legislation "is not to fine people. The goal is to ensure that people are immunized," Science Alert writes.
Measles has seen a resurgence across the globe recently which is startling to health professionals everywhere. CNN reports that Germany has seen 651 cases of the disease between March of 2018 and February of 2019, one of the largest numbers across European countries. Many are blaming vaccine hesitancy for the return of the disease that was once considered eradicated in the United States. It's become such a health crisis that the World Health Organization has listed vaccine hesitancy as a top health concern across the globe.
"We have been having this debate every few months over the past 10, 20 years," Spahn stated in an interview with television broadcaster ZDF. "Whenever there is an outbreak and children or students have to be kept away from lessons, everyone says we could, we should do something - but not enough happens."
The United States is also currently seeing the largest numbers of cases of measles in the last 25 years with 764 cases across 23 states reported as of May 3, the CDC reports. That is an increase of 60 cases from just the week before. The WHO has issued its own warning about the disease after more than 34,000 people contracted the disease in Europe in January and February of this year and they fear the outbreaks will continue to spread.
“If outbreak response is not timely and comprehensive, the virus will find its way into more pockets of vulnerable individuals and potentially spread to additional countries within and beyond the region,” it said in a statement. “Every opportunity should be used to vaccinate susceptible children, adolescents, and adults.”
If Spahn's bill is approved not it will go into effect at the beginning of 2020 and apply not only to school-age children but adults who work in schools, hospitals, and other public institutions, the New York Times reports.
Germany’s health minister has proposed a fine of up to 2,500 euros for parents who refuse to immunize their school-age children against measles https://t.co/5GyhviFlVl— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 7, 2019
Measles is a highly contagious disease that kills approximately 100,000 people per year the WHO states. Two doses of the vaccine, typically administered when children are between 12 and 15 months and again between the ages of 4 and 6 years old provide a 97% effective rate. One dose of the vaccine provides an effective rate of 93%, writes the CDC.