After the outbreak of measles in Britain last month which infected 200 children in just three weeks, Austria plans to introduce a forced vaccine registry for 12 and older. If adopted, the plan will require all people between the ages of 12 and 64 to take the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, or register themselves with the clinic. The push for mandatory vaccination is part of the government’s effort to contain the spread of measles in Austria and prevent the disease from becoming a pandemic.
At present, unvaccinated people between the ages of 12 and 64 are automatically registered with the local health clinic, who ensure they still have access to health care and take them to the doctor on a regular basis if their health worsens. Under the proposal, they will have to tick a box on an application form asking if they have in fact received the MMR vaccine. This will give the clinic the opportunity to follow up on the health of the applicant and ensure they are properly vaccinated. The campaign will cost a reported $10 million.
Under a new law due to come into effect in Austria in 2019, Austria will have a nationwide vaccination program for children and adolescents; moreover, it will be mandatory for citizens aged two through 17 in all cases, says Adriana Alzer, head of the public health ministry’s vaccination program, if they meet only one of the conditions specified, such as unvaccinated parents claiming that the vaccine does not protect their children or a positive immunization response on the part of the health care practitioner. But the legislation, which covers all people living in Austria, remains open to interpretation.
Austria has been on high alert for measles since a large outbreak erupted in southwestern Germany last summer. Compared to previous years, up to 5,000 people have fallen ill in Austria, with the number most notable among children. In total, 1,000 people have been hit by measles in the country this year.