Germany, like the US, is facing a resurgence of measles. But the country’s health minister isn’t taking things lightly.
Health minister Jens Spahn is proposing a blanket fine for any parents of unvaccinated children. The fine runs up to €2,500 ($2,790). He also suggests banning unvaccinated children from all kindergarten and daycare facilities to protect those who are too young to vaccinate and those with medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated.
In an interview published over the weekend, Spahn explained that immunization is a “social responsibility,” adding that “measles vaccinations save human suffering. We protect ourselves and others.”
Fining anti-vaccine and vaccine-hesitant parents isn’t new. Officials in New York levied $1,000 fines on parents of some unvaccinated children amid ongoing measles outbreaks last month. However, the fines only applied to children in specific areas at the epicenter of the outbreak. Spahn’s proposal, on the other hand, would see fines handed down regardless of an outbreak—and the fine is even heftier.
Though Spahn’s proposal may hit political opposition, some medical and public health experts are cheering the move. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, head of the German Medical Association, called the proposal “an important step at the right time,” for instance.
Germany has confirmed double the number of measles cases so far this year compared with the start of last year—203 in the first 10 weeks of 2019. The World Health Organization reported last month that the global measles case numbers at the start of 2019 were triple what they were in the start of 2018.
As in the US, German health officials blame the resurgence of the disease on misinformation and fear-mongering from anti-vaccine advocates.