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Vaccinations in Germany - statistics & facts

Vaccinations can provide strong protection against infectious diseases, which could have devastating effects on human health or even lead to fatalities. While not all vaccines prevent virus transmission, they still contribute to more individuals not infecting others and thus not spreading a disease further. Some vaccines have been around for a long time, such as the smallpox or polio vaccines, while others, like the recently developed vaccines against the coronavirus (COVID-19), are very new.

In general, the German Ethics Council (Deutscher Ethikrat) is against mandatory vaccination. It is a political topic fraught with controversy, and one that provokes constant public debate. In 2020, vaccination against measles was declared mandatory for children in Germany, as well as for medical personnel and people in refugee shelters. At the same time, it is a standard choice among the adult population to check up with their doctor on their vaccination status, as well as to take their children to regular vaccination appointments. The number of vaccines administered in Germany varied considerably in the 2000s, amounting to almost 40 million DDD (Defined Daily Dose) in 2019. Among German states, Saxony had the highest number of DDD per capita. In Eastern Germany, vaccination coverage is generally higher.

The German Vaccination Commission (STIKO, Ständige Impfkommission), working from the Robert Koch Institute, is the country’s leading authority on inoculations and recommends getting vaccinated against the following diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b, polio, hepatitis B, pneumococcus, rotavirus, meningococcus C, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox. In 2018, 93 percent of German children were vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. The Robert Koch Institute publishes a vaccination calendar online, with vaccinations listed by age, though the starting point for any patient is usually a visit to their doctor to get more information. In fact, when stating reasons for getting vaccinated, 79 percent of Germans followed a recommendation from a doctor. Over half of the German population were absolutely convinced of the effectiveness of vaccines.

Since vaccination recommendations or requirements vary from country to country, Germans planning a trip abroad may sometimes need to get an additional shot before traveling. Patients getting vaccinated in Germany are issued a vaccination passport (Impfpass), which records all administered vaccines. Public health insurance covers most vaccination costs, including travel-related vaccines, although this depends on whether the trip is taking place for professional or personal reasons.


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