Petition update

Updated information regarding the vaccination situation in Germany

Secretary European Forum for Vaccine Vigilance (EFVV)
London, United Kingdom

Jun 13, 2017 — Members of the EFVV (European Forum for Vaccine Vigilance), with representatives from 21 European countries, would like to update you on the situation in Germany, which up to now has been incorrectly reported in most newspapers.

In brief, Germany has not imposed any fines on parents for failure to vaccinate, but intends to strengthen its existing 2015 regulations requiring parents to attend “vaccine consultations” with their paediatrician over the years of their child’s development. It is also intended that childcare facilities be asked to report parents who do not show their certificate proving that they have attended this meeting.

These proposed modifications to the existing law (the German Federal Council, Bundesrat, will rule in July) would require the directors of public kindergartens to notify the local Health Department of any parents who refuse to show evidence of this consultation meeting with their doctor. Critics point out that this would be a breach of data protection laws and would undermine any existing positive relationship between parents and those who run German public kindergartens.

Background:

This issue arose after a young mother of three died, allegedly from measles complications. It has however been made public that this mother tried twice to be admitted to hospital, but was instead treated with antibiotics and anti-fungal drugs then sent home. She was eventually hospitalised but died the next morning. She may therefore very probably have died not from measles but from the original denial of hospitalisation and also more importantly, from a wrong diagnosis leading to the wrong treatment, i.e. for measles, an antibiotic is only recommended to fight secondary infections and the WHO recommends good hydration and high doses of Vitamin A (1) which were not administered.

This death has been used as grounds for a proposed widespread legislative change in Germany. The Health Minister Gröhe, who is a lawyer, feels the need to put pressure on everyone in Germany to ensure that all children and adults get their boosters. At present, the Green Party are against mandatory vaccination, but they feel more information should be provided. However, the Association of German Paediatricians goes even further - they are asking for mandatory vaccination for all toddlers applying to enter kindergarten ("No Vaccinations, No Kindergarten").

Several aspects of this proposed approach could be problematic:

First: the question of whether the usual form of vaccination counselling in most German (paediatric) doctors’ offices, i.e. simply handing over to parents brochures from the German Green Cross which has known ties with the pharmaceutical industry, is sufficient to meet the requirements of the IfSG, § 34, paragraph 10a (the Law for Protection Against Infectious Diseases).

Second: the new requirement for all physicians to document this vaccination advice whether the vaccination is carried out or not. Reference to the vaccination pass (implying that vaccinated means automatically informed), which the KiTas usually want to see, is not enough. There is no requirement for the pass to be shown to the KiTas as a medical document, like the U-Heft, which provides evidence of regular paediatric check-ups. Both documents contain sensitive medical information subject to data protection; the KiTas should not have access to this confidential data. This is also particularly tricky for the doctor because vaccination counselling is not provided as an independent service in German doctors’ fees regulations. It is normally only included with the vaccination itself.

Third: the fact that the state is burdening the essential trust relationship between KiTas and parents, by using the former as health police. This problem is also gradually becoming apparent to the KiTas themselves. (Source: Merkur 2017)

EFVV Comment:

The huge problem with requiring kindergartens to report parents is that this would be a violation of their constitutional rights regarding the privacy of their health information and, according to the Bundesrat itself, it would undermine the trustful relationship between parents and directors of kindergartens.

We would also raise a question regarding medical error: 19,000 people die every year in Germany from wrong diagnoses or wrong medication. Why therefore, would this mother’s death be blamed solely on failure to vaccinate?

In a climate in which Italy has recently imposed further mandatory vaccines (the decree was confirmed by their Parliament last Friday), while Sweden has voted that mandated vaccines go against their constitution and human rights, it is vital to report accurately. Clearly, the science and the ethical considerations are not precise and different countries will interpret the situation differently.

The EFVV trusts that accurate and balanced reporting will prevail in this matter of mandatory vaccines that threatens to remove human rights in other European countries as well.

Notes:
1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25619709
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11766383
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8486065

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