The measles epidemic continues to spread and kill. In 2018, cases in Europe tripled with 82,596 new cases. Since 2017, over 110,000 children and adults have died worldwide due to the easily preventable disease.
To tackle the epidemic, German Health Minister Jens Spahn is now proposing compulsory vaccination for school-attending kids and fines for parents that refuse to vaccinate their children. The measure is similar to the one that came into effect in Italy early this year, but the proposed fine would be five times higher in Germany. Mr Spahn is believed to have the support of many members of the government coalition.
“I want to eradicate measles. Anyone going to a kindergarten or school should be vaccinated against measles,” Mr Spahn told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “Whoever does not get their child vaccinated, faces up to €2,500 in fines.”
The move was positively received by the German Medical Association and the Association of Pediatricians. Some discordant voices have claimed that such a measure infringes upon the personal freedom of anti-vaxxers. However, without high vaccination rates, young children and those with compromised immune systems run the risk of contracting a dangerous disease.
Vaccine hesitancy is considered by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 threats to global health. Vaccines are safe and well tested, preventing up to 3 million deaths every year. The UN branch estimates that a further 1.5 million deaths could be avoided with better coverage.
The World Health Organization has urged European nations and their leaders to do more to tackle vaccine hesitancy. Based on the current trends of immunization rates, measles will continue to spread. Already, 61 percent of the 82,596 new cases of measles in Europe required hospitalization.
[H/T: The Independent]