Hardly any question stirs the minds of young parents as much as those after the vaccination for your baby. Should I have my child “vaccinated” against all childhood illnesses or can I do without some vaccinations? Since there is no compulsory vaccination in Germany, parents can decide for themselves whether they want to have their child vaccinated or not.
For many parents, vaccination is a major irritant
The majority opts for it: In Germany, 90 percent of the children are vaccinated.
Vaccination can prevent childhood infectious diseases such as mumps, measles and whooping cough. For this purpose, the body is injected with pathogens to which it can respond with flu-like symptoms such as fever and headache. The body now fights these pathogens and produces antibodies against the respective disease.
The next time the body comes into contact with such a pathogen, it will be killed before it can make the children sick.
How often a baby or toddler needs to be vaccinated to achieve a primary vaccine depends on the particular vaccine.
For many infectious diseases, there are combination vaccines such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR). The primary immunization of a child is completed at the age of 2 years.
To maintain the vaccine protection, further booster vaccinations are necessary. A detailed vaccination calendar with recommendations is available from the Robert Koch Institute.
Tip: Inform yourself in advance in advance and do not be afraid to talk to your pediatrician about vaccination.
Recommendations of the Vaccination Commission
For parents, the first decision is already at the age of 9 weeks: According to the vaccination recommendation of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) of the Robert Koch Institute, infants with a six-fold vaccine against polio, whooping cough , diphtheria, tetanus, Haemophilus influenza type b ( Hib) and hepatitis B vaccinated.
At the age of eleven months, the primary immunization against measles, mumps, rubella and possibly chickenpox takes place in a three (MMR) or quadruple vaccination (MMRW).
The second month will also see the vaccination against pneumococci, which can cause meningitis and pneumonia. Also, from the 12th Month of life, a vaccine against meningococcal C, which can cause bacterial meningitis and blood poisoning, recommended by the STIKO.
The following vaccinations can also be given, but are not urgently needed: With a vaccine at the age of 6 weeks babies can be protected from rotaviruses, which are responsible for diarrhea and vomiting. However, the costs are not yet covered by all health insurance companies.
Also, children can be vaccinated against the flu virus. However, this vaccine is more likely to be recommended for children suffering from chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes or cardiovascular disease, who are too debilitated by the flu condition.
Another vaccine that can be carried out on request is the so-called TBE vaccine, which protects against tick-biting pre-meningoencephalitis. This vaccine is recommended for children who spend a lot of time in nature. TBE occurs in Germany, especially in the southern federal states.
Vaccinate: pros and cons
Even if the typical teething troubles such as measles, chickenpox or rubella sounds harmless at first, they can be dangerous for children. If it comes to large outbreaks of these diseases, they can even be fatal for infants or children with weakened immune systems.
Many pediatricians therefore recommend vaccinating babies and children against these diseases.
Many parents are afraid that the vaccinations can harm their child. Today, the modern vaccines are very well tolerated for babies and children and there are rarely side effects.
Severe complications and illnesses that can occur in a childhood disease such as measles or rubella are much more dangerous for the child and can lead to long-term damage. In contrast, the risks of vaccination are very low.
Particularly treacherous are courses of disease that can occur only years after the disease: In sporadic cases, it can come only six to eight years after a measles disease to the so-called SSPE. It leads to gradual destruction of the brain cells and after about two years to death.
Women with the early-stage onset of rubella may experience serious illnesses for the unborn child.
Disadvantages of vaccination and possible vaccine damage
When vaccinated, it can also occasionally lead to complications. In this case, a distinction must be made between the vaccination reaction and vaccine damage: For example, the slight reactions shortly after vaccination include redness and swelling around the puncture site or fever.
However, in rare cases, vaccination in children may cause severe reactions such as abscesses, seizures, allergic shock or respiratory arrest in infants. In comparison, vaccine damage occurs in part only years after vaccination and can leave behind chronic diseases or permanent damage.
Among the diseases that may occur, for example, nerve inflammation, meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis.
Also, vaccinations are suspected of weakening the immune system in children and leading to an increased risk of allergies.
Why are vaccinations important?
Vaccination is therefore essential to eradicate certain infectious diseases worldwide. Even though many diseases no longer occur in Germany, they are not exterminated. For example, Central Africa, northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to be polio diseases. Travelers can, therefore, carry the virus in and infect non-vaccinated children and adults.
Vaccinate children before the holidays
If you go on holiday with your child, you should have vaccinated it according to the general vaccine recommendations of STIKO. An immunization against common childhood diseases should, therefore, be present. Because: In many countries in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, infectious diseases such as measles and hepatitis are still widespread.
Also, there is a vaccination recommendation for long-term travel to tropical countries for hepatitis A, which is approved for infants from 1 year.
The pathogen is transmitted via drinks and food. The protection occurs about two weeks after the first vaccination. When traveling to developing countries, parents should also think about rabies vaccination, which is mostly transmitted by stray dogs. The dreaded disease can be sent with a bite, a scratch or just over the saliva.
In principle, however, parents should weigh before each holiday, if an exotic destination, for example, in a malaria risk area with small children is necessary.
As a general rule: Take a good look at the vaccination certificate of your child and inform yourself about current vaccination recommendations for the respective holiday country. For the vaccine protection to be fully adequate, the vaccinations must be carried out in good time. While the health insurance companies cover the costs for the recommended standard vaccinations, vaccinations against long-distance travel have to be paid out of pocket.
- Vaccination is an irritating topic for many parents
- Teething problems are not harmless
- Robert Koch Institute gives vaccination recommendations
- 90 percent of children in Germany are vaccinated
- Vaccination is important to eradicate infectious diseases worldwide
- Side effects of vaccinations are low
- Basic vaccinations on vacation are important
- Before long-distance travel information about vaccination in time