European vaccination week: German health minister criticizes vaccination opponents
In contrast to some other European countries, there is no vaccination requirement in Germany. According to surveys, a large part of the population would welcome such a measure, but many health experts prefer to educate rather than compulsory vaccination. The benefits of protective vaccinations are also being raised as part of the European Vaccination Weeks now starting. The German Minister of Health criticizes opponents of vaccination.
Measles can be difficult
Only a few months ago, health experts pointed out the increasing number of measles cases in Germany. Some people still dismiss the disease as a harmless childhood disease. However, the highly contagious disease also affects adults and can be very difficult with serious health consequences and in rare cases even fatal. The best protection against the disease is measles vaccination. However, many people in Germany still do not have adequate vaccination protection. This is the result of a joint press release from the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
Effective protection against infectious diseases
"Vaccinations are one of the most effective measures to prevent infectious diseases," wrote the BMG on its website.
"Vaccinations not only have an effect on the vaccinated people themselves, but can also indirectly protect non-vaccinated people from an illness because they stop or reduce the spread of an infectious disease," it continues.
Despite stricter laws, too few children are still vaccinated against measles. This emerges from the new vaccination rates for school beginners, which the RKI presented on the occasion of the European Immunization Week.
According to this, in 2016 all federal states achieved the vaccination rate of 95 percent for the first measles vaccination. In the decisive second measles vaccination, the nationwide vaccination rate rose only slightly to 92.9 percent.
Federal Minister of Health criticizes opponents of vaccination
"It is irresponsible not to have children vaccinated against measles or to accept their own vaccination gaps," criticizes Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn.
"We need a vaccination rate of 95 percent nationwide for the second vaccination, so that this contagious virus disease is eradicated," said the politician.
“The medical profession, schools, daycare centers, companies, authorities and of course parents have to work even better together. Nobody has to get measles or even die today. "
Significant increase in measles diseases
According to the announcement, a total of 929 measles diseases were reported to the RKI for 2017, almost three times more than the 325 diseases in 2016. For the first twelve weeks of this year, 92 cases were reported to the RKI.
“An infection with measles viruses is by no means harmless. Around a quarter of the reported cases must be treated in the hospital. We see an average of three to seven deaths a year due to measles or the measles complication SSPE, ”explains Lothar H. Wieler, President of the RKI.
Vaccination is often carried out too late, as the interactive online map "VacMap" illustrates. Measles vaccination rates for the ages of 15 and 24 months can be called up here.
These are the age groups in which a child should have received the first or second vaccination. 24 month old children born in 2014 were only 73.9 percent vaccinated twice, only slightly more than the 2013 year.
The rates for timely vaccination are also available for all urban and rural districts. Recently, vaccination rates for infant vaccination against rotaviruses can be called up at “VacMap”.
Often, but not often enough, vaccinations are made up to the start of school. In addition to measles vaccination rates, schoolchildren and chickenpox and meningococcal vaccination rates have increased slightly.
In contrast, all other vaccination rates, for example for diphtheria and tetanus, have decreased slightly.
Attitudes towards vaccination have improved
Dr. Heidrun Thaiss, head of the BZgA, explains: “Despite existing vaccine gaps in the population, attitudes towards vaccination have improved noticeably. Only five percent of the 16- to 85-year-olds surveyed have a (rather) negative attitude, as the results of the nationwide representative survey by the Federal Center for Health Education show. "
And further: "We are basically on the right track, but consistent and targeted vaccination information is still necessary. Because those who are vaccinated not only protect themselves, but also the community. ”
The BZgA offers comprehensive information on measles vaccination protection and regularly calls for a vaccination check.
On the occasion of the European Vaccination Week, she provides a new explanatory video with tips on low-stress and low-pain vaccination.
The video is based on the current recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO).
Regulations to improve vaccination protection
As stated in the press release, the regulations for improving vaccination protection that have been in place since mid-2015 provide, for example, that all routine health examinations in children and adults are used to check the vaccination status.
Company doctors can also vaccinate. Unvaccinated children and adolescents can be temporarily excluded from attending a daycare center or school to prevent an outbreak of the disease.
Parents must provide proof of mandatory medical vaccination advice before their child enters daycare. Kindergartens must report families who refuse vaccination advice to the health department. In stubborn cases, these can also impose fines. (ad)