Vaccinations are one of the most successful preventive measures in medicine. Especially against many infectious diseases caused by viruses, which even today can only be treated symptomatically, vaccinations are the most important preventive option. Even though vaccination rates in children have increased continuously over the last ten years, there are still deficits in vaccination both for children and for adolescents and adults. These deficits are due partly to the population’s reservations about vaccination, which are mainly determined by the fear of serious side effects. Combined with individual negligence in obtaining one’s own or children’s vaccinations, such reservations can hinder international efforts to control infectious diseases. For example, the number of reported measles cases in Germany has tended to rise slightly again in recent years. In light of this, the German Ethics Council is currently preparing an Opinion on the topic of “Vaccination as a Duty?”.
At a public hearing on 21 February 2019, the German Ethics Council discusses with invited experts why national and international vaccination programmes sometimes fail to achieve their goals and which regulatory measures to achieve vaccination goals are ethically and legally acceptable or useful.