How well vaccines for children prevent disease

Vaccination: Current vaccination recommendations

Protection against pneumococci

The vaccination against pneumococci (pneumococci: bacterial pathogens causing meningitis [meningitis], blood poisoning (sepsis), pneumonia, otitis media, sinusitis) has been carried out by STIKO since July 2006 Recommended for all infants and toddlers from the age of 2 months and up, as well as for children and adolescents who have not yet been vaccinated and who pose an increased health risk (e.g. with immunodeficiencies such as HIV infection, after bone marrow transplantation, sickle cell anemia and chronic diseases e.g. of the cardiovascular system, asthma, diabetes and carriers of cochlear implants).

All infants receive the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in parallel to the above-mentioned 6-fold vaccine (a total of three times - with the exception of premature infants - up to the age of 23 months):
According to the STIKO recommendation, the vaccine doses of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine should be administered at the age of 2, 4 and 11 months (so-called 2 + 1 vaccination schedule, two basic immunizations plus one booster). The 3 + 1 scheme is recommended for premature babies (born before the 37th week of pregnancy). You should be given four doses of the vaccine at ages 2, 3, 4 and 11 months.

Protection against measles, mumps and rubella

In addition, the Standing Vaccination Commission at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin (STIKO) at the age of 11 months a combined vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR vaccination) recommended (twice, 2nd vaccination at the age of 15 months). This vaccination can be combined with a vaccination against chickenpox, as a combination vaccine against measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox is also available (MMRV, see below). There should be four to six weeks between the two vaccinations. If unvaccinated children or children who have only been vaccinated once have contact with people with measles, mumps or rubella, the STIKO recommends vaccinating children against MMR within three days.

In the following situations, an MMR vaccination can be given from the age of 9 months:

  • before regular visits to a community facility.
  • after possible contact with someone with measles.
  • during a measles outbreak.

If the first vaccination was given earlier than 11 months, the second MMR vaccination must be given at the beginning of the second year of life.

In the event of an outbreak of disease, contact persons born after 1970 with an unclear vaccination status should receive a vaccination.
Due to the large vaccination gaps among young adults, the MMR vaccination is now also recommended for all adults born after 1970 if they only received one vaccination in childhood or have not yet been vaccinated or if the vaccination status is unknown. In particular, staff in medical facilities, community facilities and training facilities for young adults should be vaccinated against measles and mumps.

Protection against chickenpox (varicella)

Since July 2004, the STIKO has recommended two vaccinations for all children against chickenpox because of the potential for complications caused by the disease. The first vaccination against chickenpox is usually given at the age of 11 months carried out, either at the same time as the 1st MMR vaccination or four weeks after this at the earliest. A combined measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox vaccine (MMRV) is also available. STIKO recommends not to give the first vaccination in the form of a quadruple vaccination, but to vaccinate the varicella vaccine simultaneously with the MMR vaccine in different parts of the body (to avoid the slightly increased risk of febrile seizures). The second dose should be given to children aged 15 months and older and this can be given with the quadruple vaccine, i.e. the MMRV combination vaccine. The minimum interval between the chickenpox vaccinations should be 4 to 6 weeks. The varicella vaccination can be made up at any time if it was not carried out in the 2nd year of life. Children who have only received one varicella vaccination should have a second vaccination. In principle, missing vaccinations should be made up as early as possible, but no later than their 18th birthday.