$4000 fine for not vaccinating children

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The German government is proposing a measure to make measles vaccinations mandatory for children and employees of kindergartens and schools.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet approved the plan Wednesday, noting the number of measles infections has risen significantly in recent years.

The German parliament, where Merkel’s governing coalition holds a majority, are expected to approve the law.

If approved, children will only be admitted to kindergarten or school if they have had the jabs, and vaccinations will also be compulsory for staff in day-care centres, educational institutions, medical facilities and refugee shelters.

“We want to protect as many children as possible from a measles infection,” said Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is aiming for at least 95 per cent coverage.

Violations will lead to fines of up to 2,500 euros ($4000) under the bill that is expected to pass easily through the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Germany’s paediatricians’ association has long demanded mandatory childhood vaccinations against measles and a range of other diseases.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that global efforts to increase immunisation coverage against deadly diseases are stagnating.

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.

Germany recorded 543 cases last year, and hundreds so far this year. 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 the phased-in program beginning in March, parents of school-aged children, starting at kindergarten, will have to provide proof of vaccination. Non-compliance means children will be refused admittance to kindergarten and their parents possibly fined. Parents of older students will be fined up to 2,500 euros ($4000).

The German news agency dpa reports that while 543 cases of measles were registered in Germany last year, there have been more than 400 cases this year already.

Originally published as $4000 fine for not vaccinating children

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