There are more and more controversial opinions about vaccinations, especially on the internet, which makes it difficult for parents and patients to form an informed opinion and make up their mind. Especially in the social media a dangerous anti-vaccination movement is taking over.* I will answer to the most frequently asked questions in a series of four articles. My goal is to inform so that parents and patients are able to decide or to understand and accept better recommendations and prescriptions about vaccinations. It’s not about influencing or persuading someone.
*On this point I would like to point out to all interested parties a very interesting scientific article on this topic: Hoffmann B.L. et al. It’s not all about autism: The emerging landscape of anti-vaccination sentiment on Facebook, Vaccine 37 (2019) 2216-2223
Why is it important to vaccinate?
We come in contact with a variety of pathogens, viruses and bacteria, every day. Some are harmless and do not affect us at all, others cause illnesses. Some pathogens can cause serious, sometimes even life-threatening illnesses. The vaccination recommendations are mainly geared to these dangerous pathogens. The aim is to eradicate such momentous diseases by the widest possible vaccination of the population. Vaccination protects not only the vaccinated person but also people who cannot be vaccinated because their own immune system is compromised. So vaccination not only serves your own interests, but also the common good. Herd immunity (also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or social immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune
Why should I vaccinate myself or my children against “harmless” children’s diseases?
Children’s diseases are called so because they are so contagious that most of us infect themselves already in childhood. But also adults can be affected. The course of the disease in adults is much more severe and can be associated with serious complications. Childhood diseases are not harmless! Dangerous comorbidities could be severe lung and cerebral inflammations after measles and male infertility after mumps.
How are vaccination recommendations and regulations pronounced?
The current regulations on which vaccinations are prescribed and which are recommended are based on the latest scientific standards. The goals are the personal health of each individual and, through the highest possible vaccination rates, the protection of the entire population (herd immunity).
The country-specific vaccination committees regularly publish a so-called vaccination calendar, which shows the sequence of vaccinations and their refreshments. In children, the vaccinations are offered as part of the check-ups. Particular situations, such as injuries (tetanus vaccine) or disease waves (e.g. measles) needs special recommendations. In addition there are vaccination recommendations for certain risk groups, like the flu vaccine for elderly people, patients with chronic diseases and pregnant women, special vaccinations for travelers. It is important that all vaccinations are documented in a vaccinations certificate.