The Vaccination Booklet for Everyone

It's a topic that gets under your skin, affects us all and gives rise to many questions. With the vast background knowledge it contains, this booklet is designed to ensure you have the best possible information.

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Das Impfbuch für alle
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"We can neither see nor identify the most important and most frequent beneficiaries of vaccination. These are the people who thanks to vaccination, don't get sick and don't die."

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Chapter 1 - The vaccine research race – marathon, sprint or obstacle course

With coronaviruses, it could well be that a sprint is followed by an obstacle course. But vaccine research is more than equipped to cope.

Sometimes, it can be like running a marathon. With smallpox, it took almost two hundred years from administering the first vaccine to actually eradicating the disease. At others, it's more like a sprint: The first COVID-19 vaccines were approved just a year after the virus broke out. But then in certain circumstances, the sprint is followed by an obstacle course. This is what happens in the case of the flu virus – new vaccines have to be developed because of the constant stream of variants and mutants emerging every year. The situation is similar where coronaviruses are concerned and there are times when it resembles the hare and the hedgehog race. But whatever happens, vaccine research is more than equipped to cope.

Chapter 2 - COVID-19 vaccines – their effects on the human body

Imagine the processes in the body are similar to a concert. The heart keeps the beat, the organs are the instruments and blood circulation ensures that the orchestra plays together as one.

Imagine the processes in the body are similar to a concert. The heart keeps the beat, the organs are the instruments and blood circulation ensures that the orchestra plays together as one. When a virus invades the body, it produces 'sounds' that are not part of the body's concert. It can sound as odd as an instrument that's out of tune or be as shrill as a trumpet that doesn't fit in or belong. If the viruses are allowed to multiply undisturbed, the sound of that single trumpet becomes an increasingly unpleasant noise that drowns out everything else. But if the body's immune system – its security service – stops the troublemaker from getting onto the stage, then the concert is able to continue undisturbed. That's the kind of endless harmony a vaccination is designed to achieve.

Chapter 3 - The history of vaccines – from past to present

The story of the smallpox vaccine: In the English town of Berkeley, milk maid Sarah Nelmes suffered from cowpox (a harmless skin infection) but was somehow spared from contracting smallpox, which often resulted in death.

It all began with milkmaid Sarah Nelmes in the English town of Berkeley. Like many farm workers, she suffered from cowpox (a harmless skin infection) but was somehow spared from contracting smallpox, which often resulted in death. On 14 May 1796, country doctor Edward Jenner drew some of the fluid from Sarah's cowpox blisters and transferred it to his gardener's eight-year-old son. Seven weeks later, Jenner then infected the boy with smallpox. The boy remained healthy and didn't contract the disease. This highly unethical human trial, which today would be expressly prohibited by law, made medical history and ushered in the era of vaccination. In the 225 years since Jenner's discovery, vaccines have since taken away the fear of more than two dozen infectious diseases – and that's only the beginning.

Chapter 4 - Conflicts of interest – society's response

"All for one and one for all!" – that was the cry of the "Three Musketeers". Human beings are social beings. And vaccination is a social response.

"All for one and one for all!" – that was the cry of the Three Musketeers in Alexandre Dumas' novel of the same name. That kind of unity and cohesion, of looking out for one another, not only gives fictional heroes courage and strength – it's also one of the best-known recipes for success. In the course of evolution, we've survived not as individuals, but as communities – as families, tribes and clans. People who get vaccinated primarily protect themselves, improving their health, life expectancy and quality of life. And in doing so, they protect their families, friends and neighbours, and other people as well.

With commentary from

Dr. med Eckart von Hirschhausen

In der Mitte ist das Gesicht Dr. med. Eckart von Hirschhausens abgebildet. Um ihn herum steht in schwarzer Textschrift geschrieben: "Dr. med. von Hirschhausen impformiert".

"Our health can be affected by those around us. The only thing I should ever infect others with is my humour and good mood."

The Vaccination Booklet is supplemented by margin comments written by Eckart von Hirschhausen, Germany's best-known doctor and medical science journalist. In his commentaries, he shares his personal experiences of and views on of vaccination. As he explains: "The general advice is to ask your doctor or pharmacist. It's best to ask both. I'm pleased to see that the local pharmacies who know their regular customers and can provide them with information are on board in this crucial campaign. Thank you!"

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    Download a copy of the Vaccination Booklet to your smart phone or tablet, or to your eReader or PC. You can print the file as often as you want.

    Write your own vaccination booklet.

    Everyone knows the little yellow vaccination booklet that keeps a record of our vaccination history. From infancy to old age, vaccinations document the progress made in modern medicine and protect us from all kinds of disease. The vaccines approved for use in Europe undergo vigorous tests and approval processes and are reliable and safe. By deciding to get vaccinated, you protect not just yourself, but those you come into contact with.

    Where can I get a vaccination certificate or booklet?

    A vaccination booklet is usually issued by paediatricians when giving infants their first vaccination. It can also be issued at a doctor's surgery or be handed out by a local health authority after administering a free vaccination. The document remains valid for life.

    What information does my vaccination booklet contain?

    As set out in the section of the Federal Infection Protection Act (IfSG), the vaccination booklet is an important, internationally-recognised document which shows the vaccinations you have received or will need in the future. The vaccinating physician is legally required to enter each and every vaccination in the vaccination booklet – if there's no booklet to hand, they issue a vaccination certificate. Under section 22 IfSG, all doctors, pharmacists and local health authorities may transfer entries from old vaccination booklets/certificates to a new vaccination booklet. But this may only be done as long as the vaccination(s) can be verified.

    I've lost my vaccination booklet. What should I do?

    If you can't find or have lost your vaccination booklet, you should try to retrieve the details of the vaccinations you've received in the past 10 years from your medical files. It's best to ask at the doctor's surgery where you were vaccinated. If you fail to have your vaccinations documented, you will be classed as unvaccinated. The doctor can recommend the vaccinations you should repeat and issue a new vaccination booklet.

    For more information in German, see:

    Contact & Questions

    Please direct any questions and enquiries concerning The Vaccination Booklet for Everyone to the Federal Centre for Health Education (BzGA).

    Information about COVID-19 vaccination is available online at: Answers to other questions concerning vaccination can be obtained free of charge by calling the Info-Telephone at 116 117 (Germany) or 0800 0000837 (English, العربية , Turkish, Русский) and also here in sign language.

    © Copyright 2021 Bundesministerium für Gesundheit