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A decline in immunization across Europe has caused a spike in diseases such as measles,  chicken pox and mumps.
A decline in immunization across Europe has caused a spike in diseases such as measles,  chicken pox and mumps.

Germany: Parents Face Fines Over Child Vaccinations

Germany: Parents Face Fines Over Child Vaccinations

Germany will pass a law next week obliging kindergartens to inform the authorities if parents fail to provide evidence that they have received advice from their doctor on vaccinating their children, the health ministry said on Friday.
Parents refusing the advice risk fines of up to 2,500 euros ($2,800) under the law expected to come into force on June 1, Reuters reported.
Vaccination rules are being tightened across Europe, where a decline in immunization, has caused a spike in diseases such as measles, chicken pox and mumps, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
“Nobody can be indifferent to the fact that people are still dying of measles,” German Health Minister Hermann Groehe said. “That’s why we are tightening up regulations on vaccination.”
Italy made vaccination compulsory this month after health officials warned that a fall-off in vaccination rates had triggered a measles epidemic, with more than 2,000 cases there this year, almost ten times the number in 2015.
Lack of public trust in vaccines has become an important global health issue. Experts say negative attitudes may be due to fears over suspected side-effects and hesitancy among some doctors.
In 10 European countries, cases of measles, which can cause blindness and encephalitis, had doubled in number in the first two months of 2017 compared to the previous year, the ECDC said last month.
That is leading to greater activism among parents and public health officials. Last week, a German court ruled that a father could insist that his child be vaccinated over the objections of the child’s mother because it was in the child’s interest.
A 2010 survey of vaccinations EU-wide and in Iceland and Norway found much variation in policy. The Venice project survey reported that 15 countries had no mandatory vaccinations, and the rest had at least one mandatory vaccination.
The level of compliance was high, including in countries where vaccinations were recommended, not mandatory.
It said “the label ‘mandatory’ is not the only driver behind achieving a high vaccination coverage, and many other factors can play a role, such as the use of combined vaccines, prices for the recipient, kind of offer, information and promotional campaigns.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that since the introduction of two doses of anti-measles vaccine across Europe, the number of cases has dropped sharply. The total in 2016 - about 5,000 - was the lowest ever recorded.
But 14 European countries are described as “endemic” for measles, and most cases this year were reported in seven of them: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine. The largest outbreaks are in Italy and Romania, the WHO says.
The second measles jab needs to be administered to at least 95% of the population, the WHO says - a level not reached in the endemic countries, reports the sciencemag.org.

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