Murder plots and threats from anti-vaxxers pose challenge for Germany’s new chancellor

Despite posturing against the spread of anti-vaccination ideology, people in Germany don’t want a wave of anti-vaccine groups to take hold

Murder plots and threats from anti-vaxxers pose challenge for Germany’s new chancellor

A wave of rightwing and anti-vaxxer groups in Germany threatens a rise in measles cases, the country’s new interior minister has warned as she prepares to take office after her party won power.

Thousands of anti-vaxxers have seized on suspicions that the world’s first batch of vaxxed babies from a German doctor who visited Africa infected children in Ukraine with measles.

“There’s clear evidence that people who believed in anti-vaxx groups have already been planning, even in advance, acts against hospitals and mothers who have vaccinated their children,” Katarina Barley, member of the Christian Democratic Union, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Germany tightened anti-migrant laws on Wednesday in the wake of the measles outbreak, but anti-vaxxer groups have avoided high-profile protests and drawn only a fraction of the fervent support seen in other western European countries.

Although the movement played a part in Angela Merkel’s departure as German chancellor in November 2017, such figures as Joachim Gauck, president of the German republic, and Christian Wulff, his predecessor, have tried to put pressure on anti-vaxxers.

Now Barley, who will be charged with ensuring the borders remain open and that Germany can benefit from billions of euros in EU subsidies as part of a European stability pact, said anti-vaxxers had built up a bad reputation.

“People in Germany know that our German babies are not vaccinated,” she said. “It makes things quite complicated when you have people on both sides who believe in anti-vaxx groups.”

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