Vaccination: are children vaccinated too little?

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Experts versus parents: are children vaccinated too little? Numerous parents are critical of vaccinations

Recently, parents who are critical of vaccinations have been increasingly urged to have their children vaccinated. After health institutions such as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) already criticized the Germans 'lack of willingness to vaccinate as part of the seasonal flu wave, they are now taking action and criticizing parents' generally hesitant attitude towards vaccinations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed goal of eliminating measles and rubella in Europe by 2010 was not achieved due to the lack of vaccination and was therefore postponed to 2015, explained Ole Wichmann from the Robert Koch Institute. So far there has been too little vaccination against infectious diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough (pertussis) and hepatitis B, added Reinhard Burger, President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). But not only many parents, but also a number of vaccine-critical doctors have their problems with the extensive calls by the health authorities for a wide variety of vaccinations.

Improvement in vaccination rates - parents often skeptical The experts gathered at the initiative of the state health ministers for the second national vaccination conference in Stuttgart and underlined their demand for an improvement in the vaccination rate. Vaccination rates among freshmen are increasing steadily, but the RKI president says further improvements are needed. There is a need for improvement, especially for vaccinations for children, Burger explained. The RKI President emphasized that there is still insufficient vaccination against hepatitis B, whooping cough (pertussis), measles, mumps and rubella. In addition, vaccination is often too late and the overall vaccination protection is often incomplete, continues Burger. Therefore, according to the spokesman for the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), Peter Lang, the information and education of the parents also plays a major role in the targeted improvement of the vaccination rate. Because many parents still have considerable reservations about vaccination. A representative survey of around 3,000 parents of children up to the age of 13 showed that around 35 percent of parents are rather critical of vaccination. Almost half of the parents surveyed consider vaccinations to be unnecessary, explained Peter Lang. Numerous parents are real opponents of vaccination, according to the expert.

Vaccinations also to protect against cancer? In the opinion of the RKI President, not only common vaccination targets are required, but also a clear identification of those responsible for implementation. The vaccination recommendations of the RKI's Standing Vaccination Committee are not sufficient as technical recommendations without legal binding force, explained Burger. Harald zur Hausen, an expert at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, added that vaccinations can also play a major role in preventing cancer. For example, immunizations against the human pathogenic papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatits B would offer prevention against the specific cancer of cervical cancer, according to the DKFZ expert. With around 500,000 new cases each year, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. A large proportion (about 83 percent) of these occur in developing countries, although according to the expert, vaccination against the human pathogenic papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatits B could significantly reduce the number of new cases. According to Harald zur Hausen, around 6,000 women develop cervical cancer in Germany every year.

Doubts about the effectiveness of vaccinations The far-reaching calls to vaccinate their little ones make many parents skeptical. They are primarily concerned with the actual benefits that vaccination brings to their children. And the health authorities have so far not found any convincing arguments for the critical parents. Because objective, comparative studies between vaccinated and unvaccinated children are in short supply to this day. So far, only the formation of antibodies directed against a specific pathogen has been assessed in the context of approval studies, and there is no comparison to check the effectiveness, the critics of the vaccine opponents. If parents who are critical of the vaccination are nevertheless convinced by the existing studies, the next question is the possible negative consequences of vaccination for their children.

Fear of side effects of the vaccinations Here, first of all, possible side effects of the vaccinations should be mentioned as the reason why parents may not have vaccinated their children. Adverse reactions to the current vaccinations are relatively rare, but in individual cases they can cause serious health problems, making many parents shy away from immunization. The fact that, for example, the extensive call for vaccination against swine flu in 2009 also caused some adults to suffer considerable side effects from the vaccine used, has reinforced many parents' basic attitude towards vaccination. The public's confidence in health institutions such as the RKI's Standing Vaccination Commission or the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), which is responsible for the approval of vaccines, has been shaken by the apparently rash call for comprehensive vaccination against the H1N1 pathogen. So it only seems understandable that parents who are critical of vaccinations also have reservations about the current calls to improve the vaccination rate for measles, rubella and the like. (fp)

Read about vaccination:
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Immune to flu after swine flu infection?
Swine flu is back: RKI recommends vaccination
Swine flu is no reason to panic
Swine flu facts

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Video: What I learned from parents who dont vaccinate their kids. Jennifer Reich. TEDxMileHigh


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