Vaccinations for children

The best protection from the outset with vaccinations

A girl has an vaccination attended by her father

Most parents in Germany choose to have their children vaccinated, which is why 95% of children have received their essential basic vaccinations by the time they start school according to school-entry examination statistics. Nevertheless, many parents do not find it easy to make the decision on whether or not to have their child vaccinated. Can childhood diseases really be so dangerous? And what about the potential side effects of vaccinations?

It’s entirely normal to ask yourself these types of questions, but there’s something you should always remember: the more people are vaccinated, the less likely it will be for diseases to spread. Ultimately, they will fall into oblivion and be considered harmless. The potential side effects of vaccinations, on the other hand, are often seen in a very critical light. People often forget that supposedly harmless childhood diseases such as measles are highly contagious and can have serious consequences – particularly for adults.

We have put together a summary of the most essential information regarding the benefits and potential side effects of vaccinations for children, as recommended by the experts at the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO), so that you can make the right decision as a parent.

VaccinationAge: 2 monthsAge: 3 monthsAge: 4 monthsAge:
11–14 months
15–23 months
Tetanus (lockjaw)1st2nd3rd4th
Pertussis (whooping cough)1st2nd3rd4th
Hib (haemophilus influenzae type B)1st2nd3rd4th
Polio (poliomyelitis)1st2nd3rd4th
Hepatitis B1st2nd3rd4th
Rotaviruses1st2nd3rd (if necessary)
Meningococcal COnce from 12 months
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)1st2nd
Chickenpox (varicella)1st2nd
Cervical cancer (HPV)
Flu (influenza)Annually in the event of chronic illnessAnnually in the event of chronic illness

If any vaccinations have been missed, your child can still go back for these at any time up to and including the age of 17.

2–4 years old
5–6 years old
9–14 years old
15–17 years old
Tetanus (lockjaw)1st booster                              2nd booster
Diphtheria1st booster                              2nd booster
Pertussis (whooping cough)1st booster                              2nd booster
Hib (haemophilus influenzae type B)
Polio (poliomyelitis)BoosterBooster
Hepatitis B
Meningococcal C
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
Chickenpox (varicella)
Cervical cancer (HPV)1st and 2nd
Flu (influenza)Annually in the event of chronic illnessAnnually in the event of chronic illnessAnnually in the event of chronic illnessAnnually in the event of chronic illness

If any vaccinations have been missed, your child can still go back for these at any time up to and including the age of 17.

Frequently asked questions about vaccinations

We have put together a list of frequently asked questions on the subject of vaccinations along with their answers.

Most childhood diseases such as measles and chickenpox can be cured without any consequences. In some cases, however, they can give rise to serious – and even life-threatening – accompanying illnesses such as pneumonia or encephalitis. And it’s not just children who can pick up these diseases, either; adults are also susceptible and actually suffer from them far worse. 

Live vaccines are made up of weakened pathogens that are no longer capable of causing a disease. Inactivated vaccines, on the other hand, contain pathogens that are no longer active yet still cause the immune system to respond. The vaccinations in use today are generally the inactivated variety.

Combination vaccines contain several pathogens for various infectious diseases and so counteract a number of diseases at the same time. They are particularly common for children so as to minimise the overall number of injections they have to sit through.

Instead of receiving three different injections for measles, mumps and rubella, for example, your child can have them all combined into one, which is followed up later with a single booster. Even the immune systems of very young children are well equipped to handle combination vaccines. Today’s vaccines also feature significantly lower doses of pathogens or antigens.

Most of the vaccines used today contain pathogens that have been made harmless and are used in tiny quantities. This means that the vaccine cannot trigger any diseases. For various reasons, vaccines contain traces of accompanying substances that cannot be left out. These accompanying substances serve primarily to deactivate viruses and minimise their longevity, or else prevent impurities from being produced. The adjuvants, as they’re known, are used in part to improve the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Today’s vaccines are well tolerated. Around a third of those vaccinated experience only redness or minor swelling around the injection site. This is a harmless reaction and shows that the body is reacting to the vaccine. Occasionally, in the first three days after the vaccination, general symptoms such as an increase in temperature or tiredness may occur, although these usually subside after one to three days. There are isolated instances of side effects such as headaches, body aches, nausea or allergic reactions being reported.

Today’s vaccinations are monitored extremely closely, and the chances of complications are very rare. Barely any vaccines now contain chicken protein; however, please speak to your doctor if you are aware of an allergy to this protein. Generally speaking, people with allergies should no longer have any issues with the vaccines available today.

Vaccinations for children – your SBK benefits

Please note: if you are not connected directly, unfortunately, all lines are busy at the time of your call. In this case you will hear an announcement in German and be directed to an answering machine. You are welcome to leave your name and telephone number after the tone and we will call you back as soon as possible.

Here’s how to have your child vaccinated

Make an appointment with your paediatrician and take your child’s vaccination record with you. The paediatrician will advise you on the recommended vaccinations and carry out the ones you choose to have. We cover the costs of all vaccinations recommended by STIKO; all you have to do is show your child’s SBK health care card to the doctor.

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