A total of 166 measles cases were recorded in Switzerland from January 1st to May 6th this year, according to the Federal Office of Public Health. (FOPH) That is eight times the figure of 21 cases recorded in the same period in 2018.
There have also been two deaths from the disease – a man in his thirties and another man in his seventies. Such deaths are rare in Switzerland.
Swiss health authorities say that a vaccination rate of 95 percent is required to eliminate the disease in the country. Currently, however, this rate is 87 percent for two-year-olds and 92 percent for 16-year-olds.
Now a number of Swiss politicians are calling for the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination to be made compulsory.
Ruth Humbel, an MP with the centre-right Christian Democrats is among their number. “People who fail to get their children vaccinated are anti-social,” she told Swiss tabloid Blick.
Humbel wants measles vaccinations made compulsory with fines introduced for people who fail to get vaccinated, or who fail to vaccinate their children. And she also believes people who are not vaccinated should pay more toward their treatment if they contract the disease.
Lorenz Hess, an MP with the centrist Conservative Democratic Party of Switzerland (BDP), also believes fines, which he thinks should be income-adjusted, would help bring up the measles vaccination rate.
And Socialist MP Yvonne Feri believes the idea is worth looking at – although she told Blick that improving awareness of the benefits of vaccination is her preferred option.
But, according to Blick, it is unclear whether there is enough support in the Swiss parliament for compulsory vaccination given it is not generally an issue the parties have a unified stance on.
Meanwhile, the FOPH is not currently looking at the option of compulsory vaccination.
However, it has changed its MMR vaccine schedule. It is now recommending that the first dose of the vaccine be administered for babies aged nine months and the second at 12 months.
Previously, the first dose was recommended at 12 months and the second between 15 and 24 months.