German minister defends plan to make measles vaccine mandatory

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German Health Minister Jens Spahn
German Health Minister Jens Spahn

Berlin – German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Monday defended his plan compel parents to vaccinate their children against measles amid a global surge in the number of cases of the infectious disease.

Spahn, speaking German public broadcaster ZDF, said his plan to penalise parents who refuse to vaccinate their children was like in traffic, if you endanger other people and get caught, you have to pay a fine.

There is broad support for Spahn’s draft law in the ruling coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, of which he is a member, and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), however the public debate about making the measles vaccine obligatory is highly charged.

According World Health Organisation data, the number of measles cases rose by 30 per cent over 2017.

The trend was acute in Europe, where 23,927 people fell sick in 2017, compared 5,273 in 2016.