Amongst the commonly recommended vaccinations some have proven to be effective forms of preventative medical care. Devastating infectious diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, and polio have been brought under control through worldwide vaccination programs. Through modern advancements effective vaccination for the epidemic diseases Malaria, Tuberculosis, and HIV now seem realistically possible.
Vaccination is however only one aspect of preventative medicine, and not always cheap, effective or the best form of care. Increasingly vaccines are being approved and recommended where the benefits are unclear for individuals and society as a whole. A vaccination is an intervention on a healthy individual and must be scrutinized and held to the highest medical standards. Risks and benefits should be carefully examined and then weighted against one another.
With the ever-expanding vaccination recommendations many parents are beginning to ask themselves if the necessary precautions are being taken by the responsible organizations.
If, and against which diseases to vaccinate a child are very tough questions for parents. Not even the Doctors carrying out the vaccinations have enough reliable information to give sound advice for making such decisions. Additionally they are under pressure from the vaccination commission and their representatives, not to mention the storm of advertising that leaves even an expert confused. Courses for doctors on the topic of vaccination are commonly sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.
Research in the field of vaccination is almost exclusively sponsored by the producers of the vaccines. They focus on quickly proving the efficacy of the drugs without properly examining their safety and long-term effects. Commercial research findings have often been manipulated, or suppressed if they are deemed adverse for a product.
The influence that the vaccine producers have reaches far into the national admissions office, committees on vaccinations, and even the world health organization. The majority of the members of the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) declare that they disclose partly serious conflicts of interests. This is unacceptable in a committee that makes such important and financially weighted recommendations. The vaccination committee does not have the personnel, or the financial means, to make objective assessments of vaccines or vaccination procedures. Studies conducted by the producers are generally the only evidence used to make the decision to recommend a vaccine.
In this way almost every newly developed vaccine, over a variable time period, finds its way into the list of officially recommended vaccines. Without the proper investigations of compatibility, sustainability, and cost efficacy the following questions cannot be answered: is it reasonable to prevent or eradicate the respective diseases? What are the long-term consequences of this vaccination, does it really lead to better health? What costs must the health care system carry, and what effect on public health could the reallocation of these investments to other forms of preventive medical care have?
For years vaccines have been amongst the most profitable pharmaceutical products, with the highest growth rates. The public recommendations make vaccines self-sustaining, since marketing becomes unnecessary. Additionally the producers are in an economically protected zone, the government is liable for all vaccines that have been officially endorsed. The producers are additionally not obliged to conduct studies on post marketing surveillance (which, however, also does not carry out such studies).
Doctors are required to give notice to the public health department if they suspect a vaccine complication. It is however no secret that only a fraction of incidents are actually reported.
The vaccine recommendations of the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) are constantly being adjusted and generally expanded. In Germany vaccinations are carried out earlier and in higher number than in most of other European countries. The current vaccination calendar calls for the following vaccine appointments:
STIKO-Recommendations as of 2018
7th week: Rotavirus
3rd month: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Hib, hepatitis B, polio, pneumococcal, and rotavirus.
4th month: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Hib, hepatitis B, polio, pneumococcal, and rotavirus.
5th month: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Hib, hepatitis B, polio, pneumococcal.
12th – 15 th month: Diphtheria, Tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Hib, Hepatitis B, Polio, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox), and meningococcal C.
6 th – 7 th year: Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
10 th – 15 th year (girls): HPV-vaccination (2-3x)
10 th – 18 th year: Tetanus, diphtheria, polio, and pertussis (whooping cough).