Thanks to a wave of misinformed “anti-vaxxers,” diseases that were previously eradicated, like measles (considered “eliminated” since 2002), are making a comeback. Unlike some epidemics, medical professionals and officials know the reason behind the measles outbreak.
Due to a drop in the vaccination rate for measles among children, the highly contagious disease is thriving. To keep its citizens safe, Germany is now planning to make it mandatory for all children to be vaccinated against measles. The news comes amidst a massive spike in measles cases in the country since the beginning of 2018.
Germany has recently claimed the title of having the newest cases of measles in Europe. Since the beginning of 2019, there have been more than four hundred new illnesses, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention.
Of course, the country is eager to rid itself of that crown.
In response, the German government has proposed new legislation that will make it mandatory for all children to be vaccinated against measles. Furthermore, adults working in schools will need to have the vaccine before showing up for work. The new program will take effect in March 2020.
Health Minister Jens Spahn says, “Whether in kindergarten, at the childminder or at school—we want to protect all children against measles infection.”
To prove their children have received the appropriate vaccine, parents will need to turn in vaccination records. Those who refuse will face fines upwards of $2,800. Meanwhile, children without the vaccine won’t be allowed to start school. While the fines and restrictions may seem steep, they will help reinforce the law that helps keep children safe and healthy.
Unfortunately, the measles outbreak stretches far beyond Europe. In the United States, there have been more than 1100 cases of measles across 28 states this year alone. The shockingly high number is the highest it has been since officials declared the disease was eliminated in 2000. It is devastating to see such a strong re-emergence of a condition that is almost always preventable.
The most influential factor behind the spike in measles cases is parents refusing to vaccinate their children. According to data from the WHO, just 93 percent of children have received the vaccination compared to a high of 97 percent.
This decline comes amid a wave of misinformation and unconfirmed reports that vaccines have adverse health effects. The primary concern anti-vaxxers raise is the belief that vaccines cause autism. However, reliable research studies have proved this theory false over and over again.
There are plenty of things to worry about in the world today. However, fearing that vaccines are harmful should be far from the top of the list. In fact, their proven benefits so greatly outweigh the risks that vaccines shouldn’t be on the list at all.
Germany’s decisive action to protect its children is one that other major countries might soon adopt, as the measles outbreak shows no sign of slowing down.