Saturday, June 22, 2024

Updated STIKO Travel Vaccinations Recommendations and G-BA Decision

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By the German Social Code Book individuals are entitled to vaccinations as defined by § 2 Nummer 9 of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG). Vaccinations for increased health risks due to travel are covered only if the travel is work-related or required for education, or if there is a public health interest in preventing the introduction of communicable disease into Germany (§ 20i Absatz 1 Satz 2 SGB V).

The specifics of these vaccinations are determined by the Joint Federal Committee (G-BA) based on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), considering their importance for public health. Any deviations from STIKO recommendations by the G-BA must be specifically justified (§ 20i Absatz 1 Satz 4 SGB V).

The G-BA must decide on changes to STIKO recommendations within two months of their publication. If the G-BA fails to decide within this timeframe, the STIKO recommendations, except those for travel-related vaccinations, may be implemented at the expense of statutory health insurance until a decision is made. The G-BA’s decision not to amend the vaccination guideline follows the updated STIKO recommendations on travel vaccinations published in Epidemiological Bulletin No. 14 on April 4, 2024.

Updated Recommendations for COVID-19 and Dengue Vaccinations Clarified by G-BA

The updated recommendations include:

  • Implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination recommendation published in the Epidemiological Bulletin No. 2 on January 11, 2024, by March 7, 2024
  • Implementation of the Dengue vaccination recommendation published in the Epidemiological Bulletin No. 48 on November 30, 2023, by January 18, 2024

The changes in country-specific vaccinations requirements, particularly concerning Dengue vaccination, do not necessitate changes to the vaccination guideline, as the guideline refers to the STIKO’s country tables, and updates from the WHO and the Foreign Office are incorporated. Additionally, on April 17, 2024, an updated online version of the Epidemiological Bulletin No. 14 included updates to the poliomyelitis vaccinations regarding the categorization of countries by WHO poliovirus circulation. The G-BA had previously clarified that regular updates to these categories do not require changes to the STIKO recommendations for poliomyelitis vaccination.

This decision serves to clarify that no changes to the vaccination guidelines are necessary. There was no need for a formal comment procedure due to the nature of the decision (G-BA’s procedural rules, Chapter 1, § 8 Absatz 2 Satz 2). However, the G-BA will continue to consider updates to STIKO recommendations for travel vaccinations in future decisions.

Vaccinations

G-BA Finalizes Vaccinations Guideline Update with Input from Medical and Pharmacy Associations

The decision did not introduce new information obligations for service providers, thus incurring no bureaucratic costs. The Subcommittee on Pharmaceuticals tasked a working group with preparing a decision on updating the vaccination guideline. After written consultations, the subcommittee finalized and approved the decision on April 9, 2024. The consultation process involved the German Medical Association (BÄK) and the Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists (ABDA), both of whom chose not to provide comments.

The consultation timeline was slightly shortened to meet the legal deadline, with the BÄK and ABDA being informed on April 9, 2024, and opting not to use their right to comment. The final decision was made by the G-BA on May 16, 2024.

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According to § 91 Absatz 5 SGB V, consultations involving the professional practices of doctors, psychotherapists, or dentists require input from their respective national associations. The G-BA’s Subcommittee on Pharmaceuticals decided to seek input from the BÄK and ABDA on April 9, 2024. Both organizations were provided with the draft decision and reasons for it. The ABDA, in their letter, declined to comment. Similarly, the BÄK chose not to comment, as stated in their May 2, 2024, letter. This consultation ensured compliance with legal requirements and allowed for a comprehensive decision-making process.

 

Resource: Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss, June 07, 2024

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