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Vaccinations are the best way to avoid contracting serious infectious diseases. Most people very much trust in the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations. Only a small minority choose not to have some or all of the vaccinations available, for a wide variety of reasons.
The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities in Hamburg have published a discussion paper on the issue: “Gemeinsam Schutz aufbauen” (Building immunity together). The paper analyses the reasons for insufficient vaccination uptake and recommends measures which should be implemented regardless of whether or not vaccinations are made compulsory – a step which is currently under discussion.
In Germany, vaccinations are not required by law. However, lawmakers are currently pushing an attempt to make the measles vaccination compulsory for certain groups, specifically for people working in community establishments such as childcare centres. The authors of the paper highlight the need for measures which increase trust in vaccinations and lead to higher vaccination rates.
These include measures encouraging people to have themselves vaccinated. The authors want to use research findings on the reasons for insufficient uptake to provide unbiased informational material and implement trust-building measures that support individuals’ decision processes. They also conclude that vaccination provision should be adapted to people’s lifestyles and routines, for example by offering vaccinations at easily accessible locations such as workplaces and at convenient times such as the weekend. Furthermore, vaccinations should be made available at every doctor’s appointment, including specialist appointments in every field. Last but not least, there is a need for improved communication around community protection to help protect children who are still too young for vaccinations and people who cannot receive them for health reasons.
Doctors and other medical professionals should also receive better training in communication so that they can actively provide straightforward vaccination advice on the basis of scientific findings – including behavioural science.