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Children in Germany will have to prove they've had a measles vaccination before they can attend kindergarten or go to school, under a new draft law. Parents who object to immunizing their kids face hefty fines.
Germany's Cabinet on Wednesday backed a draft law that would make it compulsory for all children at kindergartens, schools and daycare centers to be vaccinated against measles.
The measure, which would go into force on March 1 2020, still needs to be passed by Germany's parliament, the Bundestag.
Under the proposed bill, children at daycare and education institutions, as well as employees there, have until July 31, 2021 to provide proof of vaccination.
Fines for flouting the law
Kids who aren't immunized won't be able to attend daycare, while parents who refuse to vaccinate their school-aged children could face a fine of up to €2,500 ($2,800). Fines may also apply to facilities that allow unvaccinated children to attend.
"We want to protect all children from measles infection," Health Minister Jens Spahn said. "Measles is extremely contagious and can take a very nasty, sometimes deadly, turn."
He added that he also hoped to boost voluntary vaccinations in schools for other infectious diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.
The law also covers medical staff, and residents and workers at asylum seekers and refugee accommodations.
Measles cases on the rise
According to Health Ministry figures cited by the Bild newspaper, the law would obligate around 600,000 children and adults in Germany to get a measles vaccination.
Exemptions apply to people born before 1970, those who cannot tolerate the vaccination on medical grounds, as well as those who can prove they have already had the disease.
Measles is a highly infectious virus, spread by saliva droplets in the air. It causes fever, conjunctivitis, coughing, headaches, as well as longer-term health problems or even death.
The draft bill comes amid a resurgence of measles cases around the world. Germany had 543 cases of the disease in 2018, and around 400 cases were recorded so far this year.
Experts have warned that although almost all children in Germany have had the first measles vaccination, not all had received the second jab, which is required for 95% immunization coverage — the rate recommended to stop the disease from spreading.
nm/amp (KNA, AFP, dpa)