Vaccinations are an important part of disease prevention. We vaccinate according to the recommendations of the German permanent vaccination committee (STIKO) or on demand of other national vaccination schedules (CDC, NHS).
Vaccination protects your child from infectious diseases, which can have serious consequences.
Vaccinations protect against infection; they can contain diseases or even eradicate them. Vaccinations are one of the most important preventive measures in medicine. Modern vaccines are well tolerated. Serious vaccination damage is extremely rare and is out of proportion to the possible and more common consequences of the disease itself.
Vaccinations are important so that babies, children and adolescents can build an adequate protection against serious infections at an early stage. Vaccinations prevent the outbreak of dangerous diseases that are often associated with complications, for which even today there is still no suitable therapy.
Because of the particular risk in early childhood, it makes sense to complete the recommended vaccinations until 15 months of age. Full vaccination protection should be reached before the beginning of school. Misseds vaccinations in adolescents must be made up by the age of 18 at the latest.
In order for the body to produce enough antibodies, some vaccinations have to be repeated at certain intervals. That is why the vaccinations are refreshed in later well child checkups. Well child checkups, school entrance examinations, youth health examinations and the examinations according to the Youth Labor Protection Act can also be used as an opportunity for the vaccinations.
All vaccinations are noted in the vaccination record (“Impfpass”) You can always see which diseases the child is prepared for and when the next vaccination is due. The vaccination record is a lifelong, important medical document that should be well guarded.
Your child should be healthy for a vaccination so that the full protection against the disease can be insured. A common cold, illness of siblings or parents or an allergic reaction that was not caused by a vaccination on the other hand, are not reasons to postpone the vaccination. Even the use of antibiotics due to a bacterial infection is not a reason to postpone the vaccination, if the patient is feeling well. Before the vaccination we examine our patients and after consulting with the parents can decide if the child will get the vaccination or not.
A vaccination should be postponed if the child is running a high fever or is suffering from a severe infection. During a certain amount of time before and after an operation, children should also not be vaccinated. This amount of time depends on the operation. A weak immune system due to a disease or medication that weakens the immune system are also reasons to postpone a vaccination
After a vaccination the child’s immune system reacts in a smiliar way as it would react to a real infection. This is why symptoms of an infection can occur after a vaccination. These reactions show that the immune system is reacting to the vaccine and is producing antibodies. Therefor this is not a complication.
Most reactions to vaccination are mild and include reddening, swelling and pain around the injection site. These reactions are normally harmless and will go away after a few days. Fever and restlessness can also occur. All these reactions may occur but sometimes only fatigue or no symptoms at all occur after vaccination.
Severe complications as they occurred in earlier times (e.g. vaccination against smallpox or tuberculosis) are very rare for the vaccinations that are approved for use in Germany. If the contraindications are respected these severe compliactions aren’t expected.
In Germany the recommendations for vaccination are revised by experts at the Robert-Koch institute for infections every year. Infants, children and adolescents should get vaccinations according to a vaccination schedule. This includes the following vaccinations.
Infants already have a functioning immune system; it is however not fully developed. Therefor infants have a higher risk for some potentially life-threatening diseases. For the first couple months of their life infants have antibodies from their mother. This is called nest protection. The nest protection can protect infants against certain infections but not all (e.g. pertussis, a potentially life-threatening disease for this age group). Infants are especially at risk for pathogens that cause meningitis (Haemophilus influnezae b (Hib), pneumococci and meningococci). Therefor infants should be vaccinated at an early age, starting at about 8 weeks. Premature infants should also be vaccinated at about 8 weeks of age counting from the date of birth and not the calculated term.
To keep the number of injections to a minimum the experts of the STIKO recommend the use of combined vaccines. All modern combined vaccines are well tolerated. They don’t overstrain the young organism as they use less antigen than in earlier times and more tolerable additives. If the vaccination schedule were to consist of only single vaccines, children would get over 30 injections in the first two years of their lives.
Experience has shown that there are no disadvantages in using combined vaccines rather than single vaccines. The protective effect is not affected by the combined use. Furthermore, the tolerance of combination vaccines is better because less additives are needed and less side effects can occur. Many of the recommended vaccines are not available as single vaccines anymore.
After the basic immunization most vaccines ensure a protection that lasts for at least 5 to 10 years. The vaccination against hepatitis B, pneumococci and meningococci ensure an extremely long-lasting protection. For the vaccination against measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox there is, even after more than 35 years of experience, no evidence of a decrease in protection after two vaccinations. It cannot be ruled out that later recommendations may include a booster vaccination against these diseases during adulthood.