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Germany Considers Mandatory Measles Vaccinations

In Germany, politicians in several parties and provinces are discussing mandatory vaccinations against measles. The problem is that the number of measles cases has increased substantially since 2016.

Many parents either forget their children’s vaccination dates or reject vaccinations. Opponents often cite religious reasons (“God will protect my children”) or they believe conspiracy theories about vaccinations they read on the internet.

While dismissing scientific evidence, those parents are not only endangering their own children, but others as well, experts believe. Also they might be preventing an extinction of measles, a serious illness which can make children mentally disabled and even kill.

Minister Franziska Giffey supports mandatory vaccinations. (Photo: Martin Kraft, photo.martinkraft.com, license no. CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the legislative assemblies of Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia, politicians now want to enforce measles vaccinations for children in kindergartens. Germany’s Minister for Family Affairs, Franziska Giffey, and Health Minister Jens Spahn support the approach.

Giffey said this was about protecting children from a life-threatening illness. In her ministry, supporting mandatory vaccinations had been considered carefully. “When the risk of jeopardizing other children in kindergartens, schools and other facilities can not be minimized otherwise, the state needs to act”, Giffey stated.

Minister Spahn recently announced he would soon introduce a draft law for mandatory measles vaccinations.

In 2001, 6198 measles cases were registered in Germany. By 2012, the number decreased to only 186, but rose again the following year. In 2018, there were 677 cases. Looking at Europe, the number of measles cases has decreased in the past four decades, from 851,849 in 1980 to about 26,000 in 2013.

According to an overwhelming majority of doctors, measles are dangerous. ‘Measles parties’, which used to be organized by many parents who wanted to make sure their children get the illness behind them as soon as possible, endanger the kids, they say. In this case the infectiousness rate is extremely high.

The first measles symptoms are comparable to those of the flu, including fever. Except the oral cavity usually looks inflamed after a few days. Even later, red dots all over the body develop. Loss of appetite, pain, diarrhea, coughing and tearing eyes are part of it too.

Because of the seriousness of measles, there is a reporting obligation in Germany. Every case is being registered by the authorities.

Vaccinations have wiped out serious illnesses in Germany in the past few decades, including polio.