In Europe, most people follow the recommended vaccination schedules. But outbreaks of measles, pertussis, rubella and other vaccine-preventable diseases continue.
This is because almost everyone needs to be immunised in order to control the spread of these highly infectious diseases, and protect those who are too sick to be vaccinated.
Take measles, for example. For measles to be eliminated, 95% of children must have two doses of the MMR vaccine.
One of the most frequent questions parents have when discussing vaccines is when to bring their child to be immunised. This question is now easier to answer than ever – even if you are moving from one country to another.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has revamped the vaccine calendars on its website to make it easier to see when vaccinations are due in each of the 30 countries covered by the agency. It is searchable by disease and by age group and regularly updated.
What’s more, the new interactive site which was developed in collaboration with Le Groupe d’Etudes en Preventologie, allows users to compare the vaccine schedules of two countries – a major improvement and something EU Health Ministers called for in June 2011.
In the early 1990s we lived in Berlin, Germany. We were young and full of plans for the future. My wife Anke was working as a nurse and I had just started my professional career as an engineer. We became a little family when Julian, our older son, was born in the spring of 1992. We built our “nest”, had great friends and neighbours, and simply enjoyed life as a young family.
As most parents probably are, we were very grateful and thankful. Two years later, during the summer of 1994, our second child, Maximilian, saw the light of day and made our family happiness complete. Back then, we had not the slightest idea of how dramatically our lives would change some years later.
Max turned out to be a blessing and a challenge at the same time: he was so full of energy and life that it was sometimes hard to keep him under control. But he was very charming, even as a baby. He won the hearts of the people around him in no time.
Health professionals are crucial to increasing and maintaining immunisation rates, notably through their conversations with parents about childhood immunisation and also in discussing seasonal influenza vaccination with at-risk groups.
In this video, Dr Dina Pfeifer, World Health Organisation (European Region), discusses the role of health professionals in discussing vaccination with parents.
Mine is a story like the ones that thousands upon thousands of mothers with autistic children could tell, except no one asks them to…
A sunny afternoon in the Spring of 2009: a mother sits in a doctor’s office, a chubby-cheeked one year old on her lap. The family doctor looks at his notes and asks Mam to confirm the birth date of the wriggling baby boy. Mam replies. “Happy Birthday little man!” the doctor beams. “Now, just roll up his sleeve, we can let him get back to his birthday cake.” Mam complies and the MMR vaccine is injected. To the surprise of mother and doctor, the child laughs.
That evening: birthday cake is brought to the boy. He recoils, crying.