The German government is imposing a general health law that will require unvaccinated children, youths and adults to get inoculated. The new law will go into effect next month.
“Given the highly infectious nature of the new virus, and the rising number of recent cases of measles worldwide, it is of the utmost importance to implement an additional health protection law from next month,” Health Minister Hermann Groehe said in a statement Thursday.
The new bill “will be the first of its kind in the European Union and among the industrialized world,” Groehe said.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory system. The symptoms, which appear after two to six days, include high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and, in very young children, lethargy, blue lips and a rash that spreads from the mouth to the wrists and ankles.
Cases of measles were already climbing in the country last year. In 2011, there were 356 reported cases of measles in Germany, followed by 442 in 2012 and 406 last year. There have been 451 cases of measles in the first seven months of this year.
German parliamentarian Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is leading the ruling party, has said the majority of Germans want vaccination to be compulsory.
It is not uncommon for several European countries to announce additional measures to protect the public against the new and errant H1N1 strain of the virus. The H1N1 strain hit the United States in 2009 and spread across the country, leaving 26 dead.
The Huffington Post contributed to this report.