The vast majority of Europeans are in favour of vaccination, but there are some gross misconceptions about the supposed health risks posed by vaccines.

MMO – 05/2019

Off to a good start

A study carried out in March this year showed that 85% of Europeans believe that vaccines can effectively prevent diseases such as measles, polio, hepatitis, etc. More than 27,524 people were interviewed across Europe, including 1,507 people in Germany.

This is particularly good news for children and adults who cannot be vaccinated themselves due to their age or pre-existing conditions because they can only be protected when the majority of the general population is vaccinated.  88% of Europeans surveyed know that vaccinations not only protect themselves but are also important for the protection of others.

Germans are not only slightly above average as regards the benefits of vaccinations, but above all we clearly lead in terms of documentation. In contrast to 47% of Europeans, 85% of all Germans stated that they had a vaccination card. The study did not ask whether this is due to the national campaign ‘Germany is looking for its vaccination card’ run by the Federal Centre for Health Education.

69% of all respondents in Germany have been vaccinated themselves in the last five years, in contrast to the European average of 45%. This means that there is still room for improvement in Europe, especially in terms of vaccination rates.

It is pleasing to see that almost 80% of Europeans who have been vaccinated did so on the basis of a recommendation from their doctor and 10% on the basis of a recommendation from the health authorities. This shows that people have a great deal of confidence in healthcare professionals.

Facts instead of superstition

Despite people’s positive attitudes towards modern vaccines, almost half of Europeans (48%) falsely believe that vaccinations can often have serious side effects. And there are still 29% of Europeans who agree with the statement ‘Vaccinations are only important for children’.

Unfortunately, in recent years people have begun to present facts that do not fit into their own world view as opinions. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified misinformation about vaccination as one of the ten biggest threats to public health. Therefore, it is important to keep repeating that it is a non-negotiable fact that vaccination saves lives and has eradicated, or almost eradicated, many infectious diseases over the past two centuries.