German parents who do not vaccinate their children against measles will face fines of thousands of euros under a law passed Thursday, according to the New York Times.
Under the law, set to take effect March 2020, all children seeking to attend preschool must provide proof of immunization, as well as all children six and older, who are legally required to attend school, according to the Times.
The new law comes as health officials have reported more than 500 cases of measles this year, part of a broader trend of the disease making a comeback in parts of the world where it was once eradicated due in large part to parents’ failure to vaccinate.
“My understanding of freedom does not stop at my level as an individual,” German health minister Jens Spahn said, according to the Times. “It is also a question of whether I am unnecessarily putting others at risk.”
“dom also means that I will not be unnecessarily put at risk and that is precisely why, from the point of view of preserving freedom, this law is a good law, because it protects freedom and health,” he added.
The law will also require immunizations for any adults born after 1970 who work with children in day care centers, schools, hospitals or other public institutions, with exemptions only allowed for medical reasons approved by a doctor.
The law will give older children who are already enrolled in school through July 31, 2021 to prove their vaccination status and will require public institutions to report parents who refuse to vaccinate their children to local health authorities, according to the Times.