Wednesday January 18, 2023 – Author:
Since Corona, the topic of vaccination has been discussed more intensively again. We asked Prof. Heidrun Thaiss why the vaccination rate is higher in some EU countries than in others. And the reasons why people in this country do not get vaccinated.
Since Corona, the topic has been getting stronger again Vaccinate discussed. We asked Prof. Heidrun Thaiss why the vaccination rate is higher in some EU countries than in others. And the reasons why people in this country do not get vaccinated. Thaiss is the initiator of the National Action Alliance for Vaccination (NABI) and former President of the Federal Center for Health Education (BzgA).
According to the trained paediatrician, there is no way around vaccination. “Vaccinations are the most effective primary preventive measures. In the past few decades, no drug has been able to prevent the occurrence of a disease or prevent so many serious illnesses, complications from infectious diseases or fatal outcomes to such an extent as vaccinations do.”
Vaccination reactions indicate engagement with the vaccine
In addition, vaccinations can be administered with little effort and maximum effect. Local (redness and swelling at the injection site, arm pain) and systemic vaccination reactions (elevated temperature or headache and joint pain, i.e. weakened symptoms of the disease to be prevented) show that the immune system is dealing with the vaccine and are quasi-desirable (side) effects.
Vaccination complications, i.e. medium or long-term adverse consequences of vaccination, are extremely rare. When weighing up the risks of vaccination against the risks of severe disease progression, this must be in favor of vaccination.
Vaccination rate for influenza among over 60-year-olds has increased
The importance of vaccines in ending a pandemic Covid-19 impressively shown. Has the vaccination rate for other infectious diseases increased as a result? Among those over 60, the rate of influenza vaccinations rose from a good third to almost 50 percent, reports Thaiss. “It is to be hoped that this trend will continue.”
As for measles, school surveys show that the target of 95 percent vaccination coverage is within reach. Unfortunately, the use of the second, i.e. the booster vaccination, which is necessary for complete vaccination protection, decreases considerably.
Why the vaccination rate is higher in some EU countries
Some countries such as Spain, Italy, France, Belgium and Denmark have relatively high rates of complete vaccination. Cultural and religious reasons (with a strong sense of community and cross-generational coexistence) play a not inconsiderable role in high vaccination acceptance.
Authoritarian Eastern European states, on the other hand, show low rates. According to Prof. Thaiss, this may be related to a lack of trust in politics, the media and science, conspiracy theories, difficult access to potent vaccines, doctors who are skeptical about vaccines and statistics that are not very meaningful.
Why many people in this country do not get vaccinated
The reasons why many people in this country do not get vaccinated are heterogeneous, as shown by the long-term studies by the BzgA. “Forgetting a vaccination appointment” and “misjudging the severity of an illness” are at the top of the list, each with a third of those surveyed.
“Fear of side effects” in every fourth person and the “effort of a doctor’s visit” in almost every fifth person. Vaccination-critical media reports and advice from doctors or friends are further obstacles.
How to promote vaccination acceptance
According to Thaiss, the obstacles to the willingness to vaccinate in Germany are mainly of a structural nature: “The German health system is geared in all areas to curation and not to prevention.” In order to promote vaccination acceptance, she proposes the following measures, among others, which could be implemented with little effort.
- in training/medical studies: reintroduction and establishment of the vaccination curriculum including a practical vaccination course
- in the further training of medical staff: establish vaccination advice as a preventive measure in all special disciplines
- use every contact with the medical system to ask about the vaccination status
- revive school vaccination series
- Establishment of school health workers to provide immunization counseling and vaccinations
- Offer special vaccination and prevention days in medical practices