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What vaccinations does a child need?
There is often uncertainty in Germany when it comes to vaccinations. Most parents have their children vaccinated according to the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Vaccination (Stiko), but this is often accompanied by concerns that the child may be harmed.
In the past, vaccinations have proven to be an extremely effective measure in the fight against infectious diseases. With their help, diseases such as polio (poliomyelitis), diphtheria or smallpox could be suppressed significantly. Smallpox is now considered to be eradicated worldwide, while it claimed hundreds of millions of lives before vaccination was introduced in the late 1970s. Paradoxically, the success of the vaccinations is also one of the reasons for the partially falling acceptance, reports the news magazine "Focus Online".
Side effects of vaccinations in the focus of perception Because if a disease is successfully suppressed, its consequences are automatically less present in the public consciousness. Discussions about deaths and serious illnesses are ebbing away and instead, potential side effects of vaccinations are becoming the focus of public attention. The Stiko at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recommends vaccinations for protection against tetanus (T), diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type b, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, pneumococci in the “Vaccination calendar for infants, children, adolescents and adults , Rotaviruses (RV), meningococcal C, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella as well as against human papillomaviruses (HPV) and influenza. ”However, there is no obligation to vaccinate in Germany and parents have to weigh up which vaccinations their child should receive. In the past, especially with measles vaccinations, but also with flu vaccinations, they have only followed Stiko's recommendations to a limited extent.
Targeted eradication of certain pathogens According to the RKI, the elimination of measles, rubella and poliomyelitis by means of vaccinations is “a declared and achievable goal of national and international health policy.” However, this requires broad acceptance among the population in order to achieve the highest possible immunization rates . Because only "if high vaccination rates are reached, it is possible to regionally eliminate individual pathogens and ultimately to eradicate them worldwide", reports the RKI. As already mentioned, however, the successful suppression of the diseases sometimes leads to falling vaccination rates. In addition, some pronounced vaccination recommendations have caused uncertainty in the past. For example, in connection with the swine flu epidemic, when a vaccine quickly had to be found, which was subsequently increasingly associated with serious side effects.
Weighing up impending side effects with the advantages of vaccinations The reservations among the population regarding vaccinations are still present today, and many people are particularly skeptical about vaccinations that have to be repeated annually, such as flu vaccinations. Child vaccinations against serious diseases such as polio or diphtheria offer a significantly longer protective effect here and are generally accepted by a large part of the population. The modern “vaccines are well tolerated and undesirable drug side effects are only observed in rare cases,” explains the RKI. However, side effects are not completely excluded. "Typical complaints after vaccination are redness, swelling and pain at the vaccination site, and general reactions such as fever, headache and body aches and malaise are possible," reports the Robert Koch Institute. However, these reactions would usually subside completely after a few days. However, serious side effects can only be observed very rarely. According to the experts, the impending side effects must be weighed against the advantages that a vaccination brings or with the complaints that could arise with an illness. (fp)