Germany vaccination: Fines plan as measles cases rise

Vaccine and syringe - file pic

Parents look set to be punished if they fail to get their children immunised

The German government plans to fine parents up to €2,500 (£2,178; $2,806) if they fail to get medical advice about vaccinating their children.

Health Minister Hermann Gröhe said it was necessary to tighten the law because of a measles epidemic. He was speaking to the popular daily Bild.

“Continuing deaths from measles cannot leave anyone indifferent,” he said.

The government wants kindergartens to report any parents who lack proof of having had a medical consultation.

Failure to get advice about vaccination could mean expulsion of the child from the daycare centre, under the revised law. It is expected to be adopted next month.

A mother of three died of measles in the city of Essen this week.

However, Germany is not yet making it an offence to refuse vaccinations – unlike Italy.

And the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, said forcing kindergartens to report some parents to the health authorities might breach data protection laws.

Italy health campaign

Italy has recorded nearly three times more measles cases so far this year than for all of 2016.

Last week the Italian government ruled that parents must vaccinate their children against 12 common illnesses before enrolling them at state-run schools. The list includes measles, polio, whooping cough and hepatitis B.

By mid-April this year Germany had 410 measles cases, compared with 325 for the whole of 2016, the Robert Koch Institute reported.

The institute said that besides children, all adults born since 1970 should get immunised against measles, if they had not had the measles jab or had had it only once.

Last week a German court ruled that a father could insist on having his child vaccinated, over the objections of the mother. The case concerned a separated couple, and the child was living with the mother.

Italian officials have attacked what they call “anti-scientific” theories which have led to vaccination rates falling well below levels deemed safe to prevent outbreaks.

Those theories include a long discredited link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.