Germany Considers $2,800 Fine for Parents Skipping Measles Vaccination
Germany, like the U.S., is in the midst of a measles outbreak. The country has seen 651 cases of the disease between March 2018 and February of this year, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the sixth most of any country in the EU.
Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn wants to put a stop to it. To that end, he has drafted legislation that would fine parents who fail to vaccinate their children up to €2,500 (approximately $2,800), CNN reported Tuesday.
"I want to eradicate measles," Spahn told told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag on Sunday, as CNN reported.
12 352 cases of #measles were reported in the #EU/EEA in 2018, with France, Italy and Greece reporting the highest… https://t.co/4JVUhbCspE— ECDC - VPD (@ECDC - VPD)1556538328.0
Spahn submitted the bill to Chancellor Angela Merkel's government this week, The New York Times reported. The bill would ban toddlers and children who have not been vaccinated from attending school. Since school attendance is mandatory in Germany after age six, parents who refused would have to pay the fines to keep their children out of school. The bill would also require adults working in schools, hospitals and other public institutions to prove they had been vaccinated.
Some have criticized the bill, which would enter into effect in early 2020 if approved, for infringing on families' freedoms, according to The Washington Post.
But Spahn argued it was time to take action.
"We have been having this debate every few months over the past 10, 20 years," he told television broadcaster ZDF Monday, according to The Washington Post. "Whenever there is an outbreak and children or students have to be kept away from lessons, everyone says we could, we should do something — but not enough happens."
Spahn's bill would follow a move by the German state of Brandenburg to mandate vaccines for all children attending Kindergarten. In the U.S., New York City introduced fines of up to $1,000 last month to fight an ongoing measles outbreak in the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 764 cases of measles confirmed in 23 states in the U.S. this year, the most since 1994.
@CDCgov is working 24/7 to stop the #measlesoutbreaks & protect Americans from this contagious disease. As of May 3… https://t.co/NVAq3ueFmg— Dr. Robert R. Redfield (@Dr. Robert R. Redfield)1557175021.0
Globally, there have been almost four times as many measles cases in the first three months of 2019, compared with the same time period last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, according to The New York Times.
In Europe, more than 34,000 people have contracted the disease in the first two months of 2019, mostly in the Ukraine, Reuters reported. Thirteen people have died.
"If outbreak response is not timely and comprehensive, the virus will find its way into more pockets of vulnerable individuals and potentially spread to additional countries within and beyond the region," the WHO said in a statement announcing the figures. "Every opportunity should be used to vaccinate susceptible children, adolescents and adults."
The WHO maintains that 95 percent of a population needs to be vaccinated against measles in order for the population as a whole to be safe, The New York Times explained. In Germany, only 93 percent of first graders were sufficiently protected in 2017, the Robert Koch Institute found.
The global rise of measles comes from a combination of lack of access to vaccines, fear of vaccines and complacency, CNN reported.
A UNICEF study reported by CNN found that 110,000 people died from measles in 2017, mostly children. The number is 22 percent higher than the year before, and is due to 20 million children a year not receiving the first dose of the vaccine. The U.S. leads high-income countries for children missing the first dose of the vaccine, according to WHO.
In an interview with The Times Saturday, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said those who campaigned against vaccines had "blood on their hands," CNN reported.
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By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
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<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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