Vaccinations

Vaccinations are among the most important and effective means of preventing disease in the medical toolbox. Modern vaccines are safe and adverse effects only occur in sporadic cases. People get vaccinated mostly to protect themselves from infectious disease. However, vaccinations are not only effective in the vaccinated individuals themselves (individual protection), but can indirectly protect also unvaccinated persons (herd immunity) by stopping or slowing the spread of an infectious disease. 

In Germany, vaccinations are not required by law. The Federal Ministry of Health has set up an independent expert panel, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO), to draw up and update vaccination recommendations. The STIKO’s recommendations stipulate which immunisations are relevant for public and individual health protection by preventing communicable diseases. Members of the statutory health insurance are eligible to receive these recommended immunisations free of charge. However, this does not include vaccinations for private travel abroad.

There has been a clear increase in immunisation uptake. Paediatric immunisation rates, in particular, have been steadily rising over the last decade. However, gaps still persist in childhood vaccinations against pertussis, hepatitis B and the second dose of measles vaccine (), mumps and rubella. Adolescents and adults, too, have inadequate vaccination protection. Especially vaccination coverage rates for measles still fall short of those recommended by the World Health Organization. 

Focus: HPV vaccination

Human Papillomaviruses are sexually transmitted pathogens that infect about70 to 80 per cent of all sexually active women and men over their lifetime. There are more than 100 different types of this virus known to science. Especially the high-risk HPV types 16 and 18 can cause mutations in cervical cells that, in turn, can lead to precancerous lesions and, in rare instances, cervical cancer. To lower the disease burden from cervical cancer, all girls between the ages of 9 and 14 years should get HPV vaccination (types HPV 16, 18). Specifically, they should catch up on any missed HPV vaccinations by their 18th birthday at the latest and the full vaccination course should be completed before their first sex.

Overview of all recommended vaccinations

Infants, children and adolescents

Vaccination against

  • Rotavirus

  • Hepatitis B

  • Diphtheria

  • Tetanus

  •  Poliomyelitis

  • Haemophilus influenzae Type b (Hib)

  • Pertussis (whooping cough)

  • Measles

  • Mumps

  • Rubella

  • Varicella (chicken pox)

  • Pneumococci (bacteria that can cause meningitis and pneumonia)

  • Meningococci (bacteria that can cause meningitis)

Girls aged between 9 and 17 years

Vaccination against

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV, causes cervical cancer)

Adults

  • Poliomyelitis, standard vaccination in adults without primary immunisation  and persons without one-time booster vaccination)

  • Measles vaccination for all adults born after 1970 and who have not been vaccinated, or who received only one vaccination during childhood.

Booster vaccination (recommended every ten years) against

  • Diphtheria

  • Tetanus

  • Pertussis (whooping cough)

    (to be administered when the next diphtheria and tetanus shots are due)

Adults from age 60 years   

Vaccination against

  • Influenza (the flu)

  • Pneumococci (bacteria that can cause pneumonia)

Persons of certain age and or risk groups and their relatives

Vaccination against

  • Influenza (the flu)

  • Pneumococci (bacteria that can cause pneumonia)

  • Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)

  • Haemophilus influenza Type b (Hib)

  • Hepatitis A and B

  • Meningococci

  • Varicella (chicken pox)

  • Rubella

  • Rabies