What weighs more? The general good or the right to self-determination? At least when it comes to measles vaccination, parents will no longer have to ask this question in the future. Since the 1. March the measles protection law applies. "Before being admitted to daycare centers, schools or other community facilities, all children who are at least one year old must prove that they have received the measles vaccinations recommended by the standing commission on vaccination.", states the press release of the federal ministry of health.
Anyone working in a kindergarten or school must also provide proof of vaccination protection. The subsidy of 2,500 euros will be payable both to parents who do not have their children vaccinated and to daycare center managers who allow children to attend without vaccination.
Transition period until summer 2021
As the bavarian state ministry for education and culture stated on request, compulsory education has priority over compulsory schooling: "pupils who do not provide proof and are still subject to compulsory schooling must continue to attend school." Only persons with a medical contraindication are exempt from the obligation to vaccinate. The compulsory vaccination covers all schoolchildren, regardless of nationality, and the law does not provide for exemption on religious grounds
Above all, as far as the implementation of the new law is concerned, there are still many unanswered questions at the moment.
"During the transitional period, which runs until 31. July 2021, everything can be neatly sorted out.", says gisela rohde, head of the school district of kronach. Until the end of this period, children who are already attending school and teachers can present proof of vaccination.
In rohde's opinion, the measles protection law is justified: "there was no measles for a long time, and suddenly the disease has reappeared. So there is a reason for the compulsory vaccination." But she is also aware that not all parents are skeptical about the measles vaccine. "Of course, in some cases the vaccination can go wrong", she admits.
At the montessori school in mitwitz, the new law is to be implemented as early as the registration of new students for the coming school year. "Parents must show proof of vaccination when registering their children", says managing director gudrun jersch-bittermann. For existing students, proof of vaccination is sufficient until the end of the transition period next year. "We want to set down in a timely manner in a committee how exactly we are going to proceed with unvaccinated children", reports jersch-bittermann. She is optimistic: "we are consistent with the new admissions, and a solution will be found for the rest."
Time-consuming administrative task
The rosenberg kindergarten in kronach is still waiting for precise implementation guidelines from the government. Director birgit kestel is aware that there is currently a vaccination shortage in germany. "The requirement is not super, especially for community institutions, there are people who can not be vaccinated," it says in the press release, the 50-year-old points out. The new law is also a protection for these people, after all, one can also die from measles. Nevertheless, it considers the introduction of the law to be a rush job by the government. "The enrollment corridor has been approved. A few months later we were overcrowded and had to think about implementation – just like now."
Kestel assumes that the proof of the measles vaccination should be in written form, through the vaccination passport or the confirmation of a doctor. "It is not yet clear what the exact implementation guidelines will be. We will be informed."
Kestel is particularly concerned about increasing administrative tasks. "The references to the early detection examinations and the control of the proofs are time-consuming", she regrets. The pedagogical work is much more important. Kestel, on the other hand, is not concerned about vaccination opponents. "There are no vaccination opponents among the parents of our kindergarten children", says the frisian. She is more concerned that opponents of vaccination will join forces in large cities and establish their own daycare centers there. "The measles protection law will certainly not have a dramatic effect here."
More cautious with the first child
A mother of two daughters from the district is glad she decided to have her children vaccinated against measles. "In the case of our daughter, my husband and I thought about it for a long time and also informed ourselves about alternatives. In retrospect, the vaccination was the right thing to do", she finds retrospectively.
After the older daughter tolerated the vaccination well, the question no longer arose for the six-year-old daughter. "You become more confident and experienced with each child. Still, as a mother, you worry and are glad when it's all over."
The decision was also based on the reports of the pediatrician, who completed an internship in a hospital. "She's dealt with patients who have had terrible consequences from measles. Especially in very young children, the disease can be very serious."
514 cases of measles recorded across germany in 2019. 75 patients came from bavaria.
Commentary by cindy dotschel
A prick to protect society
A cough, a sneeze or just a word is enough to become infected. Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases. An outbreak could be prevented. The only requirement is that 95 percent of the population must be immune. Not vaccinating your children against measles is negligent!
Especially in children younger than five and adults, the disease can lead to severe complications or even death. The symptoms typical of measles subside after a few days – the dangerous thing is the consequences of the disease.
After infection, the immune system is weakened. As a result, up to six percent of those affected develop pneumonia, which accounts for a large proportion of measles-related deaths. In addition, there are patients, especially children and adolescents, who suffer from cerebral palsy as a result of measles. Four to eleven out of every 100,000 people with measles develop SSPE after seven years, and it is always fatal.
In bavaria alone, 75 people contracted measles last year. Yes, statistically it is unlikely to die from the late effects of measles. Measured against the late effects, however, the vaccine measles are definitely harmless. The decision not to vaccinate not only involves a risk for your own children. The decision is made for our entire society.