Fines of up to €2,500 ($2,800) could await parents in Germany who fail to vaccinate their children, as panic and an ongoing outbreak of measles spread like wildfire across the nation.
Last week, a 37-year-old mother of three succumbed to the highly-contagious illness in North Rhine-Westphalia — and that troubling portent has officials rushing to quash the epidemic by requiring kindergartens to inform health authorities if parents do not receive vaccination counseling.
Noncompliance could find children expelled.
"Nobody can be indifferent to the fact that people are still dying of measles," asserted Germany's Health Minister Hermann Gröhe, reports Bild, adding the tightening of laws surrounding inoculations will be imperative, due to the widespread outbreak.
In March, the BBC reported "measles had become endemic (meaning that it is self-sustaining, continuing to spread within the country) in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine," as Forbes paraphrased. "The worst measles outbreak is in Romania, which reported over 3,400 cases and 17 deaths in just the first 3 months of this year."
By the middle of April, Germany had 504 reported cases of measles in 2017 — up from just 33 in the same time period the previous year, and already in excess of the 326 cases reported for the whole of 2016.
German authorities already have the legal means to fine parents who choose not to vaccinate their children — but reporting those parents had been left to the discretion of schools.
Notes the BBC, the "upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, said forcing kindergartens to report some parents to the health authorities might breach data protection laws."
Italy, however — which has thus far experienced a threefold increase in reported cases, compared with last year — took requirements about inoculation a step further than Germany.