A vaccine has the goal to protect against a communicable disease as a preventive measure. The effect of vaccination is based on immunization against a specific pathogen. For this, the body is injected with the responsible pathogens in a vaccination, so that it reacts to it and produces antibodies against the respective pathogens. Sometimes it can lead to flu-like symptoms after vaccination, which is a normal reaction of the body to the vaccine.
When the body comes into contact again with the respective pathogen, it is combated more efficiently by the antibodies formed. As a result, the disease is avoided or occurs only in an attenuated form.
The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) of the Robert Koch Institute recommends which vaccinations, at which time or at which age, are useful to protect against infectious diseases. These recommendations are updated at regular intervals.
In principle, one can distinguish between two types of vaccinations (dead versus live vaccinations).
At the age of 6 weeks, the first vaccination against rotaviruses can take place. At 8 weeks, the first combination vaccine (six-fold vaccine) for polio, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, Haemophilus influenza b and hepatitis B is recommended. From the age of 11 months, the primary vaccination against mumps, measles and rubella is performed as a triple vaccine (MMR) or in combination with a vaccine against chickenpox as a quadruple vaccination (MMRW). Furthermore, it is recommended to have the child vaccinated against pneumococci at the age of 2 months and to be vaccinated against meningococcal C from the age of 12 months.
Since there is no compulsory vaccination in Germany, parents are free to decide which vaccinations the child should receive. The vaccines mentioned above are the most important vaccines for babies and toddlers, which should definitely be done to avoid serious and life-threatening complications. Care should also be taken to ensure follow-up and booster vaccinations against the above-mentioned diseases. The Robert Koch Institute offers information about the vaccinations, a vaccination calendar and recommendations for the respective vaccinations. In addition, the pediatrician is always available for advice.
For more information on vaccinations in infancy, see: Vaccinations in the baby
A clear advantage of vaccination is that babies and toddlers can build up immunity without being ill with the disease. The well-known childhood diseases such as measles, rubella and chickenpox could be dangerous for the children. For children with a chronic illness or a weakened immune system, these can even be fatal. The side effects and risks of vaccination against these diseases are very low. Nowadays the vaccines are generally very well tolerated.
Vaccination not only benefits you, but also the community or people who can not be vaccinated. These include, for example, babies who are still too young or people who suffer from a chronic illness. These groups depend on the vaccine protection of people in their environment. This is called herd immunity. If enough people in the area are vaccinated against a certain disease, this disease will only occur with very little risk or not at all. Thus, the people who can not vaccinate are indirectly protected from the disease.
It is important that as many people as possible are vaccinated to prevent the spread of certain infectious diseases in the population. Although vaccines have been able to eradicate infectious diseases in many parts of the world, they are still present in many countries around the world. Travelers can bring these diseases with them. Unvaccinated children and adults can then get infected with the disease.
A vaccine is the most effective and safest protection against the already mentioned childhood diseases, but also against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and polio. The side effects or the risk of vaccine damage are extremely low compared to the sometimes life-threatening consequences of these infectious diseases.
Occasionally it can come to vaccination reactions, in the form of redness and swelling at the injection site. Sometimes fever also occurs. These reactions of the body to the vaccine is a normal process of the immune system and usually disappears within a few days. In very rare cases, severe reactions such as seizures or allergic shock can occur.
Vaccine damage usually occurs years after vaccination and can lead to chronic diseases or permanent damage. These include disorders of the nerves, corneal inflammation, rheumatism or multiple sclerosis. However, these vaccine complications have mostly occurred in the past using vaccines that are no longer used today. This included vaccines against smallpox and tuberculosis.
Numerous organizations deal with the topic of "vaccinating in childhood", whereby first the public / state organizations such as the Standing Committee for Vaccination (STIKO), the ministries of health of the federal and state governments or the medical organizations such as regional medical associations should be mentioned. These express themselves consistently positive to the recommended vaccinations.
On the other hand, when researching the Internet, you also find some vaccine-critical organizations that produce a very negative picture of vaccination and therefore discourage the use of STIKO-recommended vaccinations. What is to be held by their arguments?
Some of the recommended vaccinations are done by the use of dead vaccines. This designation is based on the fact that the vaccine contains killed pathogens or only parts of the pathogen.
An advantage over live vaccines is that fewer side effects occur after vaccination with one dead vaccine. However, dead vaccines protect you as well as a live vaccine by actively immunizing your body.
The disadvantage, however, is that the vaccine protection by a dead vaccine does not last as long. Therefore, more often must be re-inoculated to maintain protection against the disease.
By vaccination against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, influenza, pneumococcal and meningococcal infections, the disease can be prevented. The Standing Committee for Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccinations for babies against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (pertussis), Haemophilus influenza type B, polio, hepatitis B as a 6-fold vaccination and pneumococci from the second month of life. The vaccine against a meningococcal infection is recommended from the age of 12 months.
The other type of vaccines includes live vaccines. These are called live vaccines because they contain small amounts of the reproductive pathogen. However, the pathogens are greatly attenuated, so they do not trigger the disease in the vaccinated person. Rarely, after the vaccination, side effects can occur, which can vary greatly. In the days following the vaccination, mild symptoms such as rash, mild fever, or swelling of the joints may occur.
The advantage of live vaccines is a mostly life-long vaccination protection against the respective disease. Thus, unlike the dead vaccines, the vaccinations of the baby / toddler age are sufficient for a lifelong immunity.
Vaccinations relevant to infants include vaccines against mumps, measles, rubella, chickenpox and rotavirus. According to the recommendation of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), the first vaccine against mumps, measles and rubella should be given as a combination vaccine at the age of 11-14 months (for example in combination with the U6).
It is also important to vaccinate the child a second time for mumps, measles and rubella at the age of 15-23 months in order to establish a safe, lifelong vaccination against these diseases.
There are occasional side effects after vaccinations. In more rare cases, these are directly attributable to the vaccine. Generally, the available vaccines are well tolerated and do not cause long term damage. The most common side effects are as a result of the puncture of the needle into the skin or into the muscle. At the injection site, redness, swelling, overheating or pain may occur. Sometimes flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches or malaise may also occur. Usually, these symptoms disappear within a few days.
In general, side effects following vaccination with a live vaccine are more common as the body reacts more intensively to the attenuated pathogens in the vaccine. As a result, longer-term immunity to the disease can build up.
After a vaccine against measles, for example, with the combination vaccine against mumps, measles and rubella, it can lead to the appearance of the so-called vaccine. Vaccines are a measles-like rash, sometimes associated with fever. They can occur about 10 days after a measles vaccine.
For more information, see: Side Effects of Vaccination in the Baby
One of the most common side effects is increased body temperature or fever. The fever usually occurs a few hours after vaccination and disappears within a few days. The fever is a natural reaction of the body to the vaccine and is completely normal. The pathogens contained in the vaccine activate the body's immune system. As a result, antibodies are formed that protect the body from contracting a particular disease.
If the fever persists for several days, the temperature does not decrease despite the antipyretic measures or the behavior of the baby changes conspicuously, a doctor should be consulted.
If the baby develops a fever or increased body temperature after vaccination, care should be taken to ensure adequate hydration. As antipyretic measures is the administration of paracetamol or Nurofen as a suppository or juice. A proven home remedy for fever are also calf wrap.
For more information see: Fever in the baby after vaccination and fever suppositories (for babies and toddlers)
Meningococci are bacteria that can trigger various serious illnesses. Meningococcal infection can cause meningitis ( meningitis ) or sepsis . It only takes a few days from the meningococcal infection to the onset of the disease. In case of illness, the sick person must be hospitalized with antibiotics. The courses are usually very severe and often there are complications. Other people who had contact with the sick person must also be given preventive medication.
There are several subgroups of meningococci. The meningococcal serotypes A, B, C, W135 and Y most commonly cause the above diseases, with the B and C bacteria being found mainly in Europe. The diseases caused by group B - meningococci tend to be somewhat milder. The vaccination against meningococcal B is not recommended in Germany as a standard, this is regularly checked by the permanent vaccination committee, as these proportionally trigger more illnesses. This vaccine is currently recommended for people with congenital or acquired immunodeficiency.
However, vaccination against meningococcal C is recommended from the age of 12 months.
There are two diseases that can be transmitted by a tick bite. For one, this may be the disease Lyme disease and on the other the early summer meningoencephalitis, abbreviated FSME, his.
People can protect themselves by vaccination only against the infection with the pathogens of the TBE. TBE is a condition that can lead to inflammation of the brain, brain or spinal cord. This inflammation is triggered by viruses, which is transmitted by a stab of ticks on humans. If a tick is infected with TBE, symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, or dizziness may occur about one to two weeks after the tick bite. Mostly, the disease heals after a few days. In rare cases, caused by the inflammation of the brain, meninges or spinal cord causing movement disorders, paralysis or consciousness clouding.
In principle, children can receive a vaccine against TBE from the first year of life. In general, people who are in the months of April to November often in nature are particularly at risk. Since children often play in nature, the risk of being stung relatively high by a tick. Therefore, after playing in the wild, the child and clothing should be thoroughly checked for ticks and if necessary removed quickly. It should be discussed with the doctor, how high the risk of infection for the child and therefore how useful the vaccine.
The vaccine against rotavirus infection is a useful vaccine for infants and young children and is recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO). Especially infants and toddlers up to the age of 2 contract rotaviruses. When infected with the rotavirus it comes within 2 days to violent watery diarrhea and vomiting. This can lead to heavy fluid and salt loss. This is a dangerous complication and leads to dehydration especially in babies and toddlers. As a result, many children have to be hospitalized due to severe illnesses. This can be avoided very well by vaccination against rotaviruses.
The vaccine is a live vaccine given as a oral vaccine. The vaccine is well tolerated by the babies. The vaccine may also be administered concomitantly with other vaccines. It is recommended to start the oral vaccination until 12 weeks of age, usually with the U3 at around 6 weeks of age. In order to obtain a complete vaccine protection, a second and a third oral vaccination must be given at intervals of 4 weeks, depending on the vaccine used.
In Germany, about two million people are diagnosed with the "real" flu, influenza. Influenza is an infectious disease transmitted by influenza A or B virus.
The symptoms are very variable, but usually the flu starts very suddenly and the feeling of illness can be very pronounced. Furthermore, high fever, chills, cough, runny nose, severe head and body aches may develop. Especially people who have a weakened immune system are at risk for further complications such as lung and middle ear infections. In very rare cases, this can also lead to meningitis.
For this reason, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends that people of certain risk groups be vaccinated against the flu every year. A flu vaccine for babies is recommended from the age of 6 months if they have a primary condition. These include chronic metabolic, cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, healthy babies and toddlers do not necessarily have to receive a flu vaccine. The pediatrician will point this out in individual cases. For children and adolescents 2-17 years there is a special vaccine. It is a live vaccine that can be given as a nasal spray. Babies under the age of two receive the death vaccine, which is also given to adults, as a half-dose.