Vaccinations in Germany are not mandatory, but are strongly recommended by healthcare authorities for the prevention against infectious diseases and illnesses. Expatica explains the details about immunization in children and adults, and how to go about getting vaccinations in Germany.
The healthcare system in Germany is often rated as one of the best in the world; getting vaccinated in Germany helps to protect other unvaccinated people around you against infectious diseases. Vaccinations in Germany are voluntary and there are no legal requirements on having your children vaccinated. However, because of the resurgence of measles in Germany – and globally – many German states are in the process of making the MMR vaccine mandatory.
The Permanent Vaccination Commission (Ständige Impfkommission or STIKO), an independent expert panel that regularly publishes up-to-date information and statistics for the public, provides advice so you can make an informed decision.
- The German vaccination system
- Insurance for vaccinations in Germany
- Vaccinations for children in German
- Vaccinations for special groups in Germany
- Travel vaccinations in Germany
- Useful Resources
The German vaccination system
The vaccination system guidelines in Germany are published by the Robert Koch Institute. They provide relevant and up-to-date information on vaccines that help prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
All public health insurance firms pay for the vaccinations recommended by the Permanent Vaccination Commission according to the official vaccination guideline. Some health insurances also pay for vaccinations against diseases that you might catch while on holiday abroad (Reiseimpfung). You and your children are entitled to receive inoculations free of charge via your statutory health insurance package.
Public opinion on vaccinations in Germany is positive; as a result, the current national vaccination rate is 93%. However, authorities report that this is still slightly below the official goal of 95%. German Health Minister Jens Spahn has recently put forward a proposal to encourage vaccinations and has suggested implementing fines of €2,500 and kindergarten bans on unvaccinated children. In addition, many German states – such as Brandenburg – are currently discussing making vaccinations compulsory, as the rate of measles infections has tripled in recent year because of parents’ fears that the MMR vaccine may cause autism (in spite of the fact there is no scientific evidence to support this.) If successful, this proposal could come into effect by March 2020.
Insurance for vaccinations in Germany
Germany is keen to ensure that all residents have access to vaccinations through their health insurance package. There are a number of private health insurance providers in Germany that cover vaccinations, such as:
Vaccinations for children in Germany
Vaccinations for children in Germany are free. When you are vaccinated for the first time, you receive a yellow booklet called a vaccination record (impfpass, impfausweis, or impfbuch) that gives a record of your immunization schedule. You should bring your vaccination record along to all your medical appointments. Up until the age of six, all children’s medical appointments and exams are documented (in German) to recognize and track any potential infectious illnesses.
In Germany, the national routine childhood immunization schedule comprises the following vaccinations:
- Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine: at 11–14 and 15–23 months old
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine: at two, three, four, and 11–14 months old; following this, a booster dose at 5–6 years old
- Hepatitis B vaccine: at two, three, four, and 11–14 months old
- Hib vaccine: at two, three, four, and 11–14 months old
- HPV vaccine (girls only): one dose between 9–14 years old
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine: at 11–14 months and 15–23 months old
- Men C vaccine: one dose from 12 months old
- Pneumococcal (PCV) vaccine: at two, four, and 11–14 months old
- Polio vaccine: at two, three, four and 11–14 months old; following this, an optional booster dose between 9–16 years old
- Rotavirus (gastroenteritis) vaccine: at six weeks, two months, and four months old
Vaccinations for special groups in Germany
For those who are classed as falling in the category of a special or at-risk group, there are also several recommended vaccines:
- Chickenpox vaccine: at-risk groups such as the elderly or those with serious health conditions (e.g., cardiovascular or lung disease)
- Flu vaccine: for medical staff, the police, drug-users, prisoners, pregnant women, adults from age 60, and at-risk groups such as the elderly or those with serious health conditions (e.g., cardiovascular or lung disease)
- Hepatitis A and B vaccine: for medical staff, the police, drug users, prisoners, and pregnant women
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine: at-risk groups such as the elderly or those with serious health conditions (like cardiovascular or lung disease)
- Men C vaccine: at-risk groups such as the elderly or those with serious health conditions (e.g., cardiovascular or lung disease)
- PCV vaccine: at-risk groups such as the elderly or those with serious health conditions (e.g., cardiovascular or lung disease)
- Pneumococci vaccine: adults from age 60 and at-risk groups such as the elderly or those with serious health conditions (e.g., cardiovascular or lung disease)
Remember to always check with a healthcare professional in case of individual enquiries on your vaccination requirements.
Travel vaccinations in Germany
Vaccination requirements for entering Germany may exist depending on your nationality; check with a German embassy or consulate in your area before you travel to Germany to make sure. The Centers for Disease Control also provides advice for those traveling to areas that require them.
Some health insurances may cover the costs of the following travel vaccinations (Reiseimpfung) against diseases that you might catch while on holiday abroad. These should be organized ideally two to three months before travel:
- Japanese encephalitis
- Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)
- Typhoid fever
- Yellow fever
Check with your local health insurance provider directly to see if travel-related healthcare is covered in your health insurance plan.
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