V Is For Vaccinations

8th January 2013

Shot, pique, injection, vaccination, jab, impfung, innoculation, immunisation, vaccinazione… whatever you call them – they are an important, if unpopular, part of your child’s life (and yours!).

We, in the developed world with most of the world’s medical advances liberally available to us, for free or at a surprisingly affordable price, have the luxury of debating the risk and benefits of this or that vaccine, or vaccine combination. I am unashamedly pro-vaccination and have vaccinated myself, my daughters and my patients fully according to the Swiss Vaccination Plan – although I do recognise that not every parent is quite so evangelical about them and that every medical drug, whether for preventation or treatment, does have potential side effects.

I would just say this – consider the mums and dads in developing countries that don’t have the choice whether to vaccinate or not – and sometimes have to stand by helpless as their little ones suffer the effects of measles, polio, tetanus etc.

As an expat myself, and working with hundreds of international parents every year, it can be difficult to reconcile all the different vaccination schedules from our different home countries. So I thought I would dedicate this article to the Swiss Vaccination Plan. This plan is in agreement with the WHO guidelines and can be added to eg an early chicken-pox (varicella) vaccine, after discussion with your paediatrician.

Go find your and your child’s Vaccination Card now and compare what has been received in Switzerland or in other countries. Be sure to make an appointment with your paediatrician or family doctor to catch up on any missed ones. Don’t become a victim of the increasing epidemics of preventable diseases eg measles – or be the one to spread a potentially fatal disease to a younger, weaker or more vulnerable member of our human community. Make Edward Jenner and his cow and milkmaid proud!

These are the basic recommended vaccinations. Your doctor may recommend others according to need (travel, family history, country of origin, personal choice etc). Talk to him or her about your needs and concerns.

AGE DTP Polio Hib HBV MMR HPV Chicken Pox Pneumococcus Meningitis C
2 months Yes Yes Yes Perhaps Yes
4 months Yes Yes Yes Perhaps Yes
6 months Yes Yes Yes Perhaps
12 months Yes Yes
12-15 months Yes
15-24 months Yes Yes Yes Perhaps Yes
4-7 years Yes Yes Check they are uptodate now!
11-14/15 years Yes Check they are uptodate now! Yes Check they are uptodate now! Yes Yes (if they haven’t had the chicken pox disease) Yes
25-29 years Yes Check they are uptodate now! Check they are uptodate now! Check they are uptodate now! Yes Check they are uptodate now!
45 years Yes Check they are uptodate now! Check they are uptodate now! Check they are uptodate now!
65 years and older Yes Yes


DTP = Diptheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (whooping cough)
Hib = Haemophilus Influenza B
HBV = Hepatitis B Virus
MMR = Measles, Mumps, Rubella (German Measles)
HPV = Human Papilloma Virus

The recommendation for the Influenza vaccine may change from year to year according to the predicted nature of seasonal ‘flu. Take a look at for the latest uptodate information for Switzerland.

What is Herd Immunity? I’ve heard this is a ‘reason’ to be vaccinated.
This is a concept where if the majority of a population (usually above 85%) is vaccinated against a disease, they act as a firebreak for the weaker members of the community who may not be able to be vaccinated eg due to being too young, allergies, immune deficiencies or other diseases. Thus if you and your family are vaccinated, then you are not only protecting yourselves but the most vulnerable little and big ones around us.

As with all these medical articles, I hope this one will be useful for you – do let me know if this or any of others have been of particular help for you. Your feedback is always valued. Remember that this information is not intended to replace a medical consultation. If you suspect illness or injury, you should always seek professional medical advice.

This blog was written by Dr Penny Fraser.

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