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HEALTH

Germany’s highest court upholds mandatory measles jabs for children

The decision by Germany's Constitutional Court means that daycares can require children to be vaccinated or recovered from measles in order to attend.

Germany's highest court upholds mandatory measles jabs for children

Germany’s highest court – the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) – has ruled that daycares and day homes can legally require parents seeking to put children in their care to ensure their kids are vaccinated for measles.

Children who have recovered from the disease, even if they’re not vaccinated—and thus have immunity—would also be eligible for care.

The court was hearing an appeal into a law passed by the German parliament (the Bundestag) in 2019 requiring that parents prove their child’s vaccination to attend daycare.

Because school attendance is compulsory in Germany, such a vaccine mandate isn’t legal for schools. The Court reasoned that daycares can still require vaccination because attendance there is voluntary.

READ ALSO: Measles vaccination to become compulsory in Germany

The court acknowledged that vaccine mandates infringe upon parental rights, but argued that such infringements were proportionate given the need to protect vulnerable groups the children might come in contact with—such as pregnant women or the immunocompromised.

“In view of the very high infection risk with measles and the associated risk of a severe case, the risk to third parties is considerable,” court judges wrote.

Less than 95 percent of the German population has been vaccinated for measles, which is believed to be considerably more infectious than Covid-19. As such, measles outbreaks still occur in Germany.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach hailed the move as “good news” for parents and children.

“Anyone who is cared for or works there must be able to demonstrate protection,” Lauterbach said. “And for everyone else, measles vaccination is a common sense requirement.”

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HEALTH

German pharmacies see supply shortage of around 250 medications

German pharmacies are sounding the alarm due to a shortage of items including high blood pressure medications, fever syrups and ibuprofen.

German pharmacies see supply shortage of around 250 medications

The head of the German Pharmacist’s Association is warning of a “timebomb” on supply shortages in the country’s pharmacies.

Hans-Peter Hubmann, chairman of the Deutscher Apothekerverband (DAV), says pharmacies around the country are increasingly seeing delivery delays or simply running out of medications.

“Right now there’s about 250 medications listed as being simply undeliverable,” he said as the DAV prepared to mark World Patient Safety Day on Saturday.

Some medication shortages have been going on for months, or even years in some cases, said Hubmann, but the problem has recently gotten worse. DAV reports there was an absolute shortage of the tamoxifen breast cancer drug in both April and May, leaving the patients affected with little recourse at that time.

Shortages are also not simply in niche drugs, but in stocks of medications that are widely used, such as children’s fever syrup, blood pressure medications, and painkillers.

READ ALSO: Why are medicines in Germany only available in pharmacies?

“There’s always a few bottlenecks here and there because of a supplier failure, but less than half the products currently affected had shortages five years ago,” he said.

The DAV says China’s current ‘zero-Covid’ approach has made the problem worse because many producers no longer find it economical to produce certain medicines in Europe. Fever syrup, to use one example, is under a price cap – limiting the incentive to produce it in Europe. With active ingredients produced in China or other East Asian countries, the lockdowns at Chinese ports prevent certain medicines from being shipped to Europe in a timely manner.

“That’s why we’ve been demanding that active ingredient production takes place in Europe again,” Hubmann said, asking for politicians to create incentives for companies to do so.

However, he says that even if they did, it would take five to 10 years for the supply problems to alleviate. “That doesn’t happen overnight,” he says.

Vocabulary:

Pharmacist – (der) Apotheke/(die) Apothekerin

An Association (often, but not always, used in the context of trade associations) – (der) Verband

Medication – (das) Medikament

Delivery bottlenecks – (die) Lieferengpässe

Painkillers – (die) Schmerzmittel

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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