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Fact check: rumors and truths about measles vaccination


TIME ONLINE | News, backgrounds and debates

Berlin (dpa) - With a compulsory vaccination in kindergartens and schools measles diseases in Germany will be more contained in the coming year. The Bundestag decided on Thursday a law by Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU).

Because in some places too few children are immunized. But even adults have picking. When it comes to measles, it quickly becomes emotional. Arguments of Impfbefürworten meet comments from Impfgegnern. What's right and what's wrong?

ASSIGNMENT: Measles must go through, which also strengthens the body.

EVALUATION: That's wrong.

FACTS: Measles are by no means harmless. One third to half of the cases previously reported to the Robert Koch Institute had to be treated in the hospital. Because measles viruses suppress the immune system, so that other pathogens come to the train and can cause, for example, pneumonia. According to health reports, an average of 4 to 7 deaths per year are recorded in Germany due to a measles infection. Before the vaccine was introduced, around 100 deaths per year were registered in Germany.

CLAIM: To vaccinate your child helps society.

EVALUATION: That's right.

FACTS: Community protection, the so-called herd immunity, according to information on the website of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is an important advantage in vaccination. A man also protects with a measles vaccine not only himself, but indirectly also the others. If enough people are vaccinated against measles, the pathogen can no longer spread in the population.

Only then are babies or pregnant women protected, for example, can not be vaccinated against measles. That's not the case yet. According to the RKI, the picking of measles is still too large. Although, according to the latest figures for 2017, about 97 percent of new schoolchildren have received the first vaccine.

But at the crucial second measles vaccination on federal level the desired vaccination rate of 95 percent is still not achieved. It is around 93 percent. In 2018, the RKI registered 543 measles diseases, with more than 300 cases this year. Almost half of the patients are young adults. "This points to the big pickers in these age groups," emphasizes RKI President Lothar Wieler.

ASSIGNMENT: If you get vaccinated against measles, you can get sick.

EVALUATION: That's rare, but it can happen.

FACTS: A measles vaccine contains a live vaccine containing an attenuated variant of the pathogen. "This pathogen can multiply limited," says Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. The infectious disease itself, the measles, but he could no longer trigger.

However, there is something special about the measles vaccine. For example, about 5 to 15 percent of those vaccinated, especially after the first measles immunization, showed a reaction with moderate fever, fulminant rash and respiratory symptoms, occasionally accompanied by a rash typical to the measles. This usually happens in the second week after vaccination. This reaction is referred to as "vaccine creams".

But these are not contagious and cause only mild symptoms that go away by themselves, added Cichutek. Compared to the long-term consequences of true measles, which in rare cases can also lead to the death of children, the vaccines are uncomfortable, but not dangerous.

CLAIM: A measles vaccine can cause autism.

EVALUATION: That's wrong.

FACTS: "The rumor, especially the measles vaccine could cause autism, goes back to an investigation of only twelve children," says Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. The study of a British doctor, however, was methodically so flawed that the journal "The Lancet" the publication from the year 1998 in 2011 withdrawn. The author has lost his doctorate in the UK. Among other things, because he had been proven conflicts of interest. "There is no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism," Cichutek said.

CLAIM: When women are vaccinated against measles before pregnancy, it also protects their baby.

EVALUATION: This applies with restrictions.

FACTS: Before birth, protective antibodies are transferred from the mother to the child. According to the internet pages of the Robert Koch Institute, newborns have a certain protection against these pathogens. Breastfeeding support this nest protection. In diseases such as measles, the vaccine stimulates the mother's immune system less than a previous natural infection.

CLAIM: A measles vaccine puts too much strain on the immune system of young children because it is not fully mature.

EVALUATION: That's wrong.

FACTS: "The immune system of young children is equipped to deal with pathogens," says Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. The human immune system develops through training. "This training should start as early as possible, with a safe training partner," he adds. In the case of measles, the recommended time is approximately twelve months, and in exceptional cases, nine months. Real pathogens are without a trained immune system very dangerous, sometimes life-threatening.

CLAIM: The measles vaccine can also protect against certain other diseases or sequelae.

EVALUATION: That's right.

FACTS: According to the findings of the Robert Koch Institute, vaccinations can protect not only from the disease itself but also from complications and sequelae. Measles prevent meningitis caused by measles viruses. Or pneumonia, which can occur if measles viruses weaken the immune system for a while.

CLAIM: A measles vaccine does not provide 100% protection.

EVALUATION: That's right.

FACTS: According to the Robert Koch Institute, no vaccination can guarantee 100% effectiveness. The double combination vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, however, prevented in 93 to 99 percent of the vaccinated the outbreak of disease. The small spell usually leads to life-long immunity in successfully vaccinated people. This is also supported by the fact that relevant measles outbreaks among vaccinated people have not yet occurred. The majority of measles cases in Germany affect the unvaccinated and people who only received measles vaccine.

Paul Ehrlich Institute on immunization and refuted studies on autism

Robert Koch Institute on vaccine topics

Robert Koch Institute on Measles

Source: zeit

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