Multiple large-scale studies have found that vaccines are safe. There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Parents in Germany will now be legally required to vaccinate their school-age children against measles — or risk paying hefty fines.
The law, which was passed on Thursday, will make proof of immunization against measles mandatory for all students seeking to attend pre-school, as well as for all children over the age of 6, according to The New York Times. Additionally, adults born after 1970 who work with children and are employed by public institutions will also have to be vaccinated against the disease.
The law is set to take effect in March of next year, although older children already in school will have until July 31, 2021 to be immunized, the Times reports. Should students not be able to prove they have been vaccinated, their parents face fines of up to 2,500 euros (about $2,750).
Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn described the new law as a form of “child protection” against an “unnecessary threat in 2019,” according to The Guardian.
The law passed 459 to 89 with 105 abstentions, according to the Independent.
This new law is a response to the rising number of measles cases caused by people choosing not to vaccinate.
In Germany, there were 543 measles cases last year, and so far there have been a reported 400 cases in 2019, according to the Times.
Cases of the disease have also been on the rise across Europe. Throughout the first half of 2019, there were about 90,000 cases in Europe, double that amount reported in the same period in 2018, according to the World Health Organization. In January, the organization named vaccine hesitancy — the “reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability” — as one of the top threats to global health in 2019.)
The disease, which is almost entirely preventable, has also been on the rise in the United States.
There have been 1,261 reported cases of the measles in 2019, according to the CDC. This is the most since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
The outbreaks are largely occurring in communities of unvaccinated people, either due to religious beliefs or misinformation that has spread online about the safety of vaccines. But several large studies have confirmed that the measles vaccine is safe.
“Measles is preventable and the way to end this outbreak is to ensure that all children and adults who can get vaccinated, do get vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in June. “Again, I want to reassure parents that vaccines are safe, they do not cause autism. The greater danger is the disease the vaccination prevents.”
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