Defeating Measles … Vaccinations Protect us!

25 April 2016. To mark the European Immunisation Week, people in Berlin were treated to a special light project involving the Charité’s famous high-rise. The Berlin hospital's building was covered at night in red spots representing measles’ signature symptoms. This illumination, an effort initiated by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Centre for Health Education, aimed at raising public awareness to the importance of vaccinations. 

25 April 2016
Photo: Hermann Gröhe in front of the projection of measels on the Charité building
Hermann Gröhe in front of the projection of measels on the Charité building (Source: BMG / Thomas Imo (photothek))

Vaccinations against dangerous infectious diseases are certainly among the most life-saving medical achievements. However, vaccination gaps still persist across all age groups. Even though measles immunisation rates at school entry have slightly recovered in most federal states, Germany still does not comply with WHO’s target.  

While the current figures show that Germany has improved when it comes to measles immunisation, that is not nearly good enough. The vaccination gaps are still too big. Since mid-2015, there have been new regulations in place for checks on immunisation status and advice on vaccinations. What we need now is a combined effort involving doctors, schools, kindergartens, businesses and, of course, families, so that measles becomes a thing of the past. Everyone of us needs to contribute to eradicating measles.

Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe

In Germany so far, only a few federal states reach the vaccination coverage of 95 percent that is required for measles elimination to be successful. In 2014, only 92.8 percent of the children starting school had received the critical second dose. 2013 saw a measles immunisation rate of 92.6 percent.  

Since mid-2015, doctors are obliged by law to check their patients’ vaccination status and alert them to missing immunisations in the course of all routine health examinations for all ages. The Robert Koch-Institute’s Permanent Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends measles vaccination to all adults who were born after 1970 and are not vaccinated at all or just once or whose measles vaccination status is unclear. The costs for the measles immunisation and for all the immunisations recommended by the STIKO are covered by the statutory health insurance.