Most Germans want children to be vaccinated

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DAK survey: Four out of five Germans support vaccination

In the course of a significant increase in measles diseases, the topic of vaccination is not only discussed in the health authorities. According to a survey by the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit, 82 percent of people are in favor of introducing compulsory vaccination. Other diseases that are often downplayed as childhood illnesses, such as mumps or whooping cough, can also take severe courses in adulthood. It was only in June that a 14-year-old boy died from the late effects of a measles infection.

79 percent of Germans want compulsory vaccination After the measles outbreaks in Bavaria, Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia, the demand for compulsory vaccination is getting louder. After Health Minister Daniel Bahr (FDP) described the decision of parents who do not have their children vaccinated against measles as irresponsible, the introduction of compulsory vaccination is becoming more and more popular. The professional association for pediatricians (BVKJ) also supports a general obligation to vaccinate.

According to a survey by the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit, the request is well received in large parts of the population. According to this, four out of five Germans (79 percent) support the introduction of compulsory vaccination. 82 percent of them stated that consistent vaccination reduced the number of cases of illness. 73 percent are of the opinion that compulsory vaccination is particularly useful because many parents dealt with the topic too lightly. Just over two thirds (68 percent) believe that alleged childhood diseases are generally underestimated.

DAK doctor Elisabeth Thomas agrees. The term teething is trivializing. After all, these are “serious illnesses that can have serious consequences, including death. So far, only consistent vaccination has been able to push them back ”. It was important to continue this project. According to the recommendation of the Robert Koch Institute's (RKI) permanent vaccination committee (STIKO), adults who were born after 1970 should be vaccinated. People who could come into contact with the pathogens at work should also not refrain from vaccination.

As the DAK survey shows, people in eastern Germany in particular are in favor of compulsory vaccination. 93 percent of the respondents from the new federal states supported this. It was 72 percent in northern Germany and 71 percent in Bavaria.

Vaccination can reduce severe course of disease in measles Many people were surprised by the current discussion that a childhood illness like measles can lead to considerable health problems and, in the worst case, to death. Even after many years after the appearance of the typical measles symptoms, "late effects such as meningitis or disabilities" could occur, said Thomas.

While serious side effects with long-term consequences due to measles vaccination only occur very rarely - according to DAK-Gesundheit in one in a million children vaccinated against measles - especially in older and immunodeficient people, serious and even life-threatening disease courses, for example with pneumonia, can develop. However, measles infections can also be fatal in previously healthy, younger people. So-called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a generalized inflammation of the brain with nerve removal, occurs very rarely (e.g. in one in 10,000 measles patients), but causes the most serious damage and inevitably leads to the death of the person concerned. A 14-year-old boy had died of SSPE in June.

Statistically speaking, one in 1,000 measles patients develop cerebral inflammation, which can result in severe damage and disability and can also be fatal.

Vaccination opponents insist on parents' right to self-determination. Vaccination opponents made up 19 percent of the respondents in the DAK survey. At 76 percent, they referred above all to the parents' right to self-determination. In addition, many were worried about possible vaccine side effects.

Jan Leidel, chairman of STIKO, recently told the Rheinische Post newspaper that he did not see a solution to the problem in a general obligation to vaccinate. Society is skeptical of any constraint. Therefore, an obligation to vaccinate is counterproductive. In addition, the expert asked himself what the consequences of non-compliance could look like.

In the Federal Republic of Germany vaccination against smallpox existed until 1983. In the GDR, the law prescribed vaccinations against smallpox, polio and measles, among other things. (ag)

Image: Martin Büdenbender /

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