The Bundestag voted on Thursday to introduce the new Masernschutzgesetz (Measles Protection Act) aimed at stamping out measles.
The bill received support from the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), the centre-left Social Democrats and the pro-business FDP. Several members of the Left and Green party abstained, while Alternative for Germany (AfD) voted against it.
The federal cabinet had passed the law earlier this year, but the Bundestag vote rubber stamps it.
Before the Bundestag hearing, Health Minister Jens Spahn defended the legislation. He said: “This is a child protection law in the truest sense of the word.”
Spahn said young children in particular need “special protection”, reported the Frankfurter Rundschau.
Under the new regulations, from March 2020 parents will have to prove their children have been vaccinated before they can be admitted to a Kita (kindergarten/day care centre) 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.
In the Bundestag, Spahn said the collective goal is that “in future no one has to suffer from measles anymore”.
Der Deutsche #Bundestag hat heute das #Masernschutzgesetz beschlossen. Das Ziel: “Wir wollen, dass in Zukunft niemand mehr an Masern erkranken muss”, so Gesundheitsminister @jensspahn. Mehr dazu im Video ?. pic.twitter.com/DlrYWUJTKc
— CDU/CSU (@cducsubt) November 14, 2019
'Measles is not a childhood disease'
Spahn argued that children could not decide to be vaccinated themselves, and that makes it necessary to make it compulsory.
“Measles is not a childhood disease”, the Christian Democrats (CDU) politician said. Furthermore, measles is “not treatable”. The infectious disease is highly contagious and “torture for children and adults” he said.
The compulsory vaccination also benefits babies “in community facilities”, Spahn said. Infants under the age of one are not allowed to receive medical jabs against measles for medical reasons, so vaccination for two to five year olds is all the more important in order to protect babies, the Health Minister added.
Spahn said “every doctor, including paediatricians” should also be prepared to vaccinate adults against measles.
Children and staff who are already in a nursery, school or community centres when the law comes into force in Germany next March must prove that they have been vaccinated by July 31st, 2021 at the latest.
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 topic of vaccination has become increasingly controversial across the world in recent years, with some parents refusing to have their child vaccinated.
The German Ethics Council, among others, have raised concerns about state intervention. Doctors, on the other hand, support the planned move.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, about 500 cases of measles have been reported in Germany this year. In Europe alone, cases were up by 350 percent last 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, and that has since been debunked.
In response, the German government drafted the law making measles vaccination compulsory for all children.
Measles – (die) Masern
Compulsory vaccination – (die) Impfpflicht
Child protection – (der) Kinderschutz
Obligation – (die) Pflicht
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