Tick ​​vaccination: really useful or not?


A tick vaccine is actually a vaccine against the disease TBE. But is this even useful? And what happens?

TBE – risk by ticks

They lurk in the grass, suck on our skin and want our blood: ticks. A tick bite can transmit disease – Lyme disease or the rarer, but potentially more dangerous, early summer meningoencephalitis , or TBE for short. A vaccine can protect against it.

What protects the tick vaccine?

The tick vaccination is useful if you live in risky areas or holiday and want to stay there in the wild. It protects against the tick-borne TBE virus, which can lead to meningitis. Therefore, the doctor usually speaks of a TBE vaccine. Here you will also learn how the tick vaccine protects children .

What exactly is FSME and how dangerous is the disease?

tick infected with the TBE agent can transmit the disease to humans with its bite if there is no vaccine against it. In seven out of ten infected the pathogen is then detectable in the blood, but those affected do not realize that they have been infected with TBE. The rest of the bitten ones feel as if they have a flu: they have a fever and a headache, they vomit. In the case of any third party in this group, meningitis or brain – the actual FSME – become infected without vaccination after the fever attack. 

How do I recognize a meningitis?

The following symptoms usually occur in meningitis:

  • severe headache
  • stiff neck
  • dizziness

When does FSME get really dangerous?

The more dangerous variant of FSME causes inflammation of the brain and sometimes of the spinal cord. Then there are disturbances of consciousness and paralysis, some patients fall into a coma. In severe cases, especially in the elderly, permanent neurological complaints are possible, in isolated cases FSME also leads to death.

How likely is it that I get infected with TBE without a tick vaccine?

Every 20th tick is infected with the virus – but usually not every single tick of an infected tick actually makes you ill. The sooner you can detect a tick bite and remove the tick , the less likely you are to get infected. 

TBE vaccine: Needed everywhere in Germany?

In addition, ticks do not transmit the TBE virus everywhere in Germany – important is the consideration of risk areas. Anyone living in northern Germany, for example, is fairly safe from the pathogen and does not necessarily have to be vaccinated. Particularly in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, ticks carry TBEs and infections have been reported from isolated regions in southern Hesse, Thuringia, Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reissues the TBE risk areas each year on a map. 

Even abroad you can get infected with FSME – the pathogen occurs in Austria, in the Baltic countries and parts of Northern and Eastern Europe. At a physician specialized in travel vaccinations one can get advice on whether a tick vaccination for the desired destination is necessary.

TBE risk areas: Should I get vaccinated against FSME?

The Robert Koch Institute recommends the TBE vaccination for persons who can come into contact with ticks in TBE risk areas. This applies, for example, to foresters and farmers who travel a lot in nature, but also for tourists who hike or cycle.

Whether a vaccine is worth it ultimately depends on how often you travel outdoors. Age should also be considered when taking a TBE vaccine: Younger people with a strong immune system and a healthy body usually cope with a tick bite without more serious complications, so the vaccine is not necessarily necessary for them.

TBE does not only happen in spring

Unlike the name tick-borne encephalitis, there is a risk of infection with TBE not only in early summer, but from April to November, most diseases occur in midsummer.

How does the TBE vaccine run and how long does vaccination last?

The TBE vaccine consists of three injections: the second one is one to three months after the first, from which point you are protected from TBE. The third vaccine takes place about a year later and provides long-term protection for three to five years. Thereafter, a refresher is needed for further vaccine protection.

As with other vaccines , it can also lead to side effects in a tick vaccine. These include:

  • General pain
  • fatigue
  • fatigue
  • fever

Tick ​​vaccination: Does the health insurance company cover the costs?

The statutory health insurance companies cover the costs for a TBE vaccination for people living in the risk areas. If you are planning a holiday in a ticks region, ask your health insurance company if they will cover the cost of travel insurance – many offer this benefit.

How else can I protect myself from ticks?

The best tick protection , whether or not you have a TBE vaccine: put on sturdy shoes, socks and long pants when you’re out in the woods. Even a shirt with long sleeves protects our body. So you make it hard for the ticks to reach the skin. On light clothes, you’ll spot ticks crawling around. Who does not want to rely on chemistry, can also test coconut oil against ticksor black cumin oil against ticks – but they only work for a short time.