The vaccine skepticism is growing worldwide – and with it the number of measles cases. No child would have to suffer from the highly contagious disease.
Why are all people talking about the measles?
The measles are among the diseases that, in principle, no child would have to suffer anymore. Since the 1960s, there is an effective, safe and inexpensive vaccine against the highly contagious disease. But after decades of decline, measles cases are on the rise again worldwide. In Europe, over 82,000 people fell ill in 2018 – more than in ten years. In Germany, the number of cases has decreased in recent years, but it always comes back to major outbreaks. In 2018, 543 cases were reported in the Federal Republic, the per capita rate was highest in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Berlin. This year, 288 cases have already been registered.
Why are the infections increasing again?
Responsible is first and foremost vaccine skepticism, which has reached such proportions that WHO ranked it as one of the top ten threats to global health earlier this year. That people reject the immunization, has many causes and is not a new phenomenon. But today views, emotions as well as conspiracy theories around the vaccine "at unprecedented distances spread at a remarkable pace," wrote the London anthropologist Heidi Larson a few days ago in the journal Science,
Wrong information thus unfolds a dangerous dynamic. The result: The protective screen against infectious diseases, the achievement that the world owes to the billions of vaccinated, becomes more permeable. In the case of measles, protection is complete when at least 95 percent of people are vaccinated. In many countries this value is not reached. In Germany, only just under 93 percent have received the necessary two vaccine doses.
How likely is a duty to vaccinate currently?
Although the politicians have been debating vaccination for years. But at the moment it really looks like it will not stay in the debate. A concrete step went on Friday the Brandenburg state parliament. Most of its members voted that the Potsdam government create framework conditions to introduce measles vaccination for daycare children. North Rhine-Westphalia also strives for such an obligation. Thuringia's Minister of Education Helmut Holter (Left) also spoke in favor of such an obligation, Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) excluded them at least not. In Hamburg, the CDU calls for a vaccination of all urban employees who work with children. In addition, a visit to a day care center should only be possible with "impeccably proven vaccination status".
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) also favors vaccination. At the beginning of May he could already present a bill. Family Minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) and the SPD chairman Andrea Nahles support the project. However, many individual questions need to be clarified beforehand, for example under what circumstances exceptions might be allowed. The situation is complicated by the fact that the measles vaccine is usually only available in combination with the vaccines against rubella and mumps, for which it seems that vaccination is not planned for the time being.
Why are the measles dangerous?
Measles are among the most contagious diseases. The virus is transmitted during coughing, sneezing and speaking. About 90 percent of all non-immune people who come in contact with an infected person, must expect a contagion. More than 95 percent of them develop symptoms. Fever, conjunctivitis, runny nose, cough and whitish patches on the oral mucosa are typical. About three to ten days after the onset of the disease, the characteristic measles rash occurs: brownish-pink spots that begin at the head and then continue to spread across the body. The complications are feared, including inflammation of the middle ear, lungs and brain. The brain inflammation occurs in one in every 1000 sufferers and can leave permanent damage or even fatal. In about four to eleven people per 100,000 sufferers, there is a neurological late complication: the so-called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a brain inflammation that can occur years after infection and leads to death