Statement by the STIKO boss: Mertens regrets the sentence on child vaccination

Status: 10.12.2021 9:45 p.m.

It was a statement at the beginning of the month that STIKO boss Mertens received a lot of criticism: He would “probably not” vaccinate a seven-year-old child. Now Mertens regrets this sentence, but also criticizes his critics.

The chairman of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), Thomas Mertens, says he regrets a statement about the corona vaccination of children, for which he had been criticized from several sides. At the same time, he accused some of his critics of having taken the statement out of context.

It’s about a podcast from the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” earlier this month. At the end of the interview, when asked whether he would have a seven-year-old child vaccinated if he were the father, Mertens said that he “probably wouldn’t” do so now.

“The mistake was to say anything personal at all”

Mertens now told the TV broadcaster Welt: “The decision about the vaccination is really a very personal matter, and that is also reflected in our current vaccination recommendation. It was probably the only mistake I made at the time that I did anything at all I said something personal. ”

In the meantime, the STIKO recommends vaccinating children between the ages of five and eleven – but only if the children have certain previous illnesses or have contact with people from a risk group. On request and after medical advice, it should also be possible to vaccinate children who do not belong to one of these two groups.

“Gross nonsense to call me an anti-vaccination opponent”

As a justification for the only limited recommendation, Mertens again referred to missing scientific data in the “Welt” interview. Even if many children of this age group have already been vaccinated in the USA, the STIKO first needs “data and study results on what has become of these children”. But this does not yet exist. There are also isolated cases of myocarditis in these age groups. Therefore, a final judgment is not yet possible for a general recommendation.

The famous quote in the podcast came after a last additional question in a long interview, said Mertens. He then said that he would currently not have the child vaccinated without the availability of a vaccine made up for children and without a final evaluation by the STIKO. That is a completely correct and completely understandable statement. “It was then taken completely out of context and reported very intensively – in the end there is nothing I can do about it – but of course it is gross nonsense if you want to call me an anti-vaccination agent,” Mertens told the broadcaster “Welt”.

“Hopefully an unconscious slip”

Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder, among others, criticized Mertens’ statement in the podcast. “I believe we should return to normal procedures with regard to the security and stability of the recommendation and not announce this on talk shows or podcasts,” said Söder.

Doctors had also shown themselves to be irritated – such as the pediatrician Jakob Maske, who is also the spokesman for his professional association. “We have been vaccinating for a year now. Now to stir up fear of what might happen in years’ time and to speak of long-term consequences is absolutely absurd. Hopefully that was an unconscious slip,” said Maske.

The STIKO had already been criticized in other contexts – for example because of its late recommendation for booster vaccinations. Im ARD-Politimagazin “Panorama” Mertens admitted that it would “probably have been cheaper” to start boosting earlier.

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