Germany will pass a new law that will oblige kindergartens to report to authorities parents of children who fail to provide evidence that they have been given advice on vaccinating their kids, the country's health ministry revealed on Friday, May 26.
Fines For Parents Refusing Vaccination Advice
Parents who refuse the advice can be fined up to 2,500 euros, or about $2,800, under the new law.
German authorities can already impose fines on parents who persistently refuse to attend vaccine consultations, which is required for children attending kindergarten, but they did not know which parents avoided the consultations.
Children May Be Expelled From Kindergarten
Under the law, which will be voted on by the Parliament on Thursday, June 2, the children of parents who were not able to seek vaccination advice may be expelled from the kindergarten or daycare centers. The Bundesrat, the German parliament's upper house, though, said that forcing kindergartens to report parents could be a breach to data protection laws.
Declining Vaccination Rates In Europe
Vaccination rules are now being tightened across Europe as the region experiences decline in immunization. Drop in vaccination rate here is blamed for the increase in cases of infectious diseases such as chicken pox, mumps and measles.
In the first two months of this year alone, the number of measles cases in 10 European countries has doubled that of the previous year, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last month.
The spread of measles, which is known to cause blindness and encephalitis, is preventable with vaccination but some parents refuse to get their children vaccinated. Falling vaccination rates have been attributed to some theories that link autism and the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.
The association between autism and vaccines has long been discredited by health experts, but many are still concerned over the safety of vaccinating their kids, as anti-vaccine activists continue to advocate that the vaccines being administered may not be safe.
Amid the measles outbreak in Minnesota, for instance, anti-vaccine activist Mark Blaxill spoke at a gathering of 90 people about the dangers of measles vaccine, claiming that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lied about the results of a 2004 study that investigated the link between MMR vaccine and autism.
Preventing Measles And Other Infectious Diseases With Immunization
While vaccines have dramatically reduced the number of people infected by potentially fatal diseases, the World Health Organization said that 1.5 million more deaths could be prevented worldwide if more people get immunized.
Health experts are particularly concerned of measles because it is highly contagious. Measles pathogens can easily spread when infected people sneeze and cough.
"Nobody can be indifferent to the fact that people are still dying of measles," said Germany's health minister Hermann Groehe. "That's why we are tightening up regulations on vaccination."
WHO said that children need to be screened for measles vaccination history once they start school. Those who have not received two doses also need to be vaccinated.