What do the recent measles outbreaks tell us

Spahn: "Measles protection is child protection, and a measles protection law is a child protection law"

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn:

Mister President! Dear Colleagues!

Measles protection is child protection, and a measles protection law is a child protection law. This law is precisely about protecting the youngest. Because measles is not - as has already been pointed out - a harmless childhood disease; Measles are among the most contagious infectious diseases in humans. They are highly contagious. If someone who has measles sneezes here, there is still a risk of infection from the droplets in this room for up to two hours afterwards. There is no therapy for measles. If you have them, you can only sit them out and have to endure them, and they can take a very, very nasty course, including pneumonia and brain infections. That is why we want to protect the weakest in society, the children, the youngest, from it. That is the aim of this law.

When I hear the debate on the concept of freedom, including the social debate on it, I have to say: Yes, it is about individual freedom; but it is also about the responsibility of the individual. In any case, my concept of freedom doesn't stop with me as an individual. When I'm here in a room with 600 or 700 colleagues, when I'm in the cinema or on the train, when it comes to communal facilities, then the question is also whether I am unnecessarily endangering others. Measles infection is an unnecessary hazard in 2019 given the vaccinations we can provide - highly safe and highly tested. This is also what it is about: Freedom also means that I am not unnecessarily endangered. That is why this law is a good law from the point of view of maintaining freedom; it protects freedom and health.

That is why we focus on community facilities, especially for the youngest who cannot decide for themselves, such as day care centers and schools. It is also about medical staff, because in the hospital you should of course be sure that you will not be unnecessarily infected there.

Incidentally, what is also contained in the draft law, Mr Spangenberg, is that in the future, asylum seekers will also be required to be vaccinated in communal accommodation. If all of what you always say here is true, and if this is what you want, then you would have to agree here. One is to scandalize problems and make them big; the other is to solve them pragmatically. We solve them pragmatically, and that's the difference to you. You'd have to agree if everything you always say was true.

Yes, since it is also about the physical integrity, the protection of the smallest, I am irritated by the statements that I read in some emails and that I even hear from some doctors: It would do children quite well, sometimes Going through measles or rubella. - When I hear something like that, I get angry because, as Federal Minister of Health, it is important to me that nobody in this country has to suffer from such a disease, which can take a very bad course. I am also thinking of the debate on triple and quadruple vaccines, which incidentally do not have more, but tend to have fewer side effects than the single-agent ingredient. There is no basic right to rubella in this country, and that is why it is good if we can use such vaccines to avoid additional infectious diseases in case of doubt.

Mrs Lötzsch, I have listened to you very carefully: every single one of the demands that you have made has been met in this draft law. Everything is precisely regulated there: strengthening the public health service; Cooperation between health insurance companies and the public health service; the possibility of offering serial vaccinations in schools; how we fund better campaigns and how we educate better; the possibility that company doctors also vaccinate. It's all in the draft. So I wonder why you are powerlessly abstaining.

- Your party introduced compulsory vaccination in 1970, and I would be delighted if you would also agree to compulsory vaccination.

In 1970 there was compulsory vaccination against measles in the GDR.

I would like to point out the following: Today is a special day for the other federal states. It is - at least for the western federal states - the first mandatory vaccination in Germany that we have been introducing since 1874. At that time, compulsory smallpox vaccination was introduced, and this compulsory vaccination has succeeded in eradicating smallpox from around the world. Nobody in the world has had to contract smallpox since the 1970s. Our goal is to eradicate other diseases as well. We are currently in the process - and we are giving a lot of money ourselves to support vaccination programs in other countries - to eradicate polio from all over the world.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues, it is our goal, with this law, to implement in Germany what we have set ourselves together in the World Health Organization, namely to eradicate measles. As Federal Minister of Health, I am concerned that the eradication of measles in the world tends to fail in countries like Germany and other European countries. We want to end that. We want no one to have measles in the future and that this disease no longer exists in the world. That is why this law is needed.