Germany adopts innovative approach to help eliminate measles and rubella

The persistence of measles outbreaks in Germany, and particularly unexplained immunization gaps in some districts of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, have caused ongoing concern among local public health authorities. To close these gaps, prevent future outbreaks and contribute to the elimination of measles and rubella in the WHO European Region, the public health authority of Baden-Württemberg has initiated a Tailoring Immunization Programmes (TIP) project.

TIP approach

WHO/Europe developed the TIP approach to identify and address pockets of susceptibility to vaccine-preventable diseases. The TIP Guide helps countries tailor their immunization programmes to meet the needs of the identified groups or remove barriers that prevent them from being fully immunized. The approach has been implemented with success in several Member States since its introduction in 2012. 

Project preparation

An orientation meeting was held in Stuttgart in December 2014 to prepare for the launch of the TIP project in Baden-Württemberg. Several representatives of the Baden-Württemberg public health authority, the Robert Koch-Institute, the University of Erfurt and WHO/Europe met to get an overview of the current situation regarding routine immunization in the Region and discuss various approaches to conduct a TIP project. The meeting was also attended by a representative of the federal state Ministry of Social Affairs and the president of the physicians’ association of Baden-Württemberg, who both signalled strong interest in the project.

The orientation meeting looked at vaccination coverage, past outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, and regional specificities in Baden-Württemberg, including susceptible sub-populations as well as likely supply- and demand-side barriers and motivators to vaccination. Based on available epidemiological data the group of experts agreed to focus on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccination in 3 districts of Baden-Württemberg. The next steps will be development of a detailed project plan and conduction of three pre-TIP rapid assessments to collect further baseline data. 

This first German TIP project is expected to be launched in early 2015.