The German government has unveiled the first national plan to make vaccinations mandatory for children aged six months to 15 years, as new data showed the number of people who had refused to have at least one shot increased.
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Late last year the government decreed that children would be required to have at least two doses of the highly contagious measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The German Medical Association is calling for three doses to be required.
Speaking on Friday, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said compulsory inoculations were an act of “justice” for young children who had been forced to sit idle while their parents argued about whether they needed to have their babies vaccinated. He also said he hoped parents would decide to take the government up on its offer of “early development support”.
Under the new rule, parents could now face fines for failing to comply. Parents will be permitted to chose whether their children receive one, two or three doses of the MMR vaccine, although the government will take into account a family’s size and income in deciding what course of action to take.
Germans are among the most reluctant to get vaccinations in Europe, with just 17% having had all their shots as of September 2018.
Germany’s health ministry said the number of partially vaccinated children under six had doubled over the last three years, and continued to grow.