The German Vaccination System

The Permanent Vaccination Commission (“Ständige Impfkommission” or “STIKO”), which is made up of various medical experts and is associated with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), regularly publishes vaccination schedules in more than 20 languages along with other information leaflets. With the help of statistics, education and research, the institue aims at preventing contagious diseases from spreading in Germany. The specific tasks of the institute are summed up in the Infectious Disease Protection Act (“Infektionsschutzgesetz”). 

Recommended Vaccinations

In Germany, the Vaccination Commission recommends inoculation against tetanus, diphteria, whooping cough (pertussis), Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib), polio (poliomyelitis), Hepatitis B, pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae), rotavirus, meningococcus C (Neisseria meningitidis), measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox (varicella) (as of August 2016).

Regarding elderly people and pregnant women, the Vaccination Commission recommends inoculation against the flu (influenza). Young women are advised to get vaccinated against cervical cancer (triggered by the human papillomavirus or HPV).

If you live in an area where tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is prevalent and spend a lot of time outside, inoculation against TBE is highly recommended by the Vaccination Commission. Tick-borne encephalisits is a viral disearse which leads to inflammation of the brain, the meninges and the spinal cord. The virus is most often spread by ticks. 

Vaccination Patterns

In order to immunise you against diseases, your doctor hast to follow different vaccination patterns. Sometimes you might have to be vaccinated several times within a specific period of time. Basic immunisation, which applies to children between 6 and 23 weeks, consists of four part vaccinations (G1 to G4). Once this basic inoculation has been carried out, it needs to be boosted again once the child has reached age 2, and later on at age 17. However, additional boosts might be necessary at a later stage. You can find the inoculation schedule of the Vaccination Commission in 20 languages at the link

Vaccination Record (“Impfpass”)

When you are vaccinated for the first time in Germany, you will receive a yellow booklet which is called “vaccination record” (“Impfpass”, “Impfausweis” or “Impfbuch”). All your inoculations will be recorded in this booklet which helps you keep track of the immunisation schedule. You should bring your vaccination record along to all your medical appointments. 

If you have minor children, you are responsible for the safekeeping of their vaccination record and monitoring their vaccination schedule for part inoculations. Any additional information can be collected in a record book for pediatric medical exams (“Kinderuntersuchungsheft” or “Gelbes Heft”). Until your child reaches age 6, all of their medical appointments and exams (U1 to U9) will be documented to recognise potential diseases as early as possible. Your gynaecologist or paediatrician will give you this booklet when you first visit them with your child. 

Costs

All public health insurance firms pay for the vaccinations recommended by the Vaccination Commission (according to the official vaccionation guideline). Some health insurances also pay for vaccinations against diseases that you might catch while on holiday abroad (“Reiseimpfung”). If you are at a higher risk of infection because of your profession, your employer has to pay for all the relevant inoculation you might need, according to section 3 of the Workers’ Health and Safety Act (“Arbeitsschutzgesetz”). 

Risk of Infection in Communal Spaces

In nursery and elementary schools, holiday camps or initial reception centers for refugees, usually a very limited space is shared by a large number  of people. In order to protect children and staff from contagious diseases, special regulations are put in place. If you notice that your children have caught a contagious disease, you have to inform the director of the school they are attending, or the management of the reception centre where you reside. Some diseases are so contagious, that they call for a “visiting ban”. This means that your child is banned from going to kindergarden or school as long as they are ill. You can find more information about this topic at the link.