17 July 2019
Germany’s federal cabinet has passed a new law for a compulsory measles vaccination, which could see parents fined if they violate it.
From March 2020, parents will have to prove that their children have been vaccinated before they can be admitted to a kita or school.
The vaccination obligation also applies to childminders and staff in day-care centers, schools, medical facilities, and communal facilities such as refugee shelters.
Children will only be admitted to kindergarten or school if they have had the jabs and violations can result in fines of up to €2,500.
“We want to protect as many children as possible from measles infection,” said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) on Wednesday. He added he is aiming for a 95 percent vaccination rate.
Children and staff who are already in a nursery, school or community centres when the law comes into force next March must prove that they have been vaccinated by July 31st, 2021 at the latest.
The ‘Kinderuntersuchungsheft’, or a special booklet to show if a child has received a vaccination. Photo: DPA
The proof can can come from a vaccination certificate, a ‘Kinderuntersuchungsheft’, a special booklet parents fill out documenting their child’s vaccines, or by a medical certificate that shows that the child has already had measles.
The compulsory vaccination is being introduced in Germany in response to a worldwide increase in measles disease. In Europe alone, cases were up by 350 percent last year.
In Germany last year, 543 cases were reported. In the first months of this year, already more than 400 cases have been reported.
Last year, 350,000 cases of measles were reported worldwide, more than double the number for 2017.
And they increased fourfold globally in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to WHO.
A heated topic
In Germany and abroad, the topic of vaccination has become increasingly controversial in recent years.
Germany’s paediatricians’ association has long demanded mandatory childhood vaccinations against measles and a range of other diseases.
The resurgence of the disease in some countries has been blamed on the so-called “anti-vax” movement, which is largely based on a 1998 publication linking the measles vaccine and autism that has since been debunked.
In response, the German government drafted the law making measles vaccination compulsory for all children.
After the cabinet, the Bundestag still has to give its approval. According to the Ministry of Health, no approval is required in the Bundesrat, the upper house of German Parliament.
The new legislation received widespead support, although was criticized by the Greens, who felt the vaccines should be encouraged but not mandatory.