Vaccinations and prevention

Infectious diseases can be serious. Vaccinations are the most effective way of protecting not only your own child, but also newborns, pregnant women, and other children and adults. There are also medicinal prophylactic treatments for diseases such as malaria.

Vaccinations and prophylactics protect

Vaccinations can prevent infectious diseases or the resulting complications. They’re the most effective protection against diseases such as:

In the Overview of diseases section you’ll find information on vaccination under the relevant disease.

On the other pages you’ll find information on vaccinations and prophylactics for travel and different stages of life.

How do vaccinations work?

A vaccination is a protective measure. It mimics the natural infection so that the body’s immune system prepares itself. This way it can respond immediately and effectively in the event of subsequent infection by the same pathogen. The pathogen is quickly rendered harmless, and the person who has been vaccinated develops only few symptoms or none at all.

Recommended vaccinations in Switzerland

The Federal Vaccination Commission and the Federal Office of Public Health thoroughly examine all vaccinations available in Switzerland. They use various criteria to decide whether a vaccination is recommended and for whom, and whether the vaccination should be included in the Swiss vaccination schedule. These criteria include things like the severity and prevalence of the disease, and the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. Vaccination will be recommended if the benefits clearly outweigh the risks and side-effects. The recommendations are reviewed regularly and adapted in line with the latest scientific findings.

Protect yourself and other people

Thanks to the high vaccination rates in Switzerland, diseases such as diphtheria and measles have declined considerably or (in the case of smallpox and polio) have even disappeared completely. The more people have been vaccinated, the less frequently such diseases occur. If the proportion of people who have not been vaccinated increases, infectious diseases such as measles can spread again very rapidly.

Getting vaccinated is a personal decision. However, a vaccination not only protects you yourself, but indirectly other people as well – especially newborn babies, pregnant women, and old or chronically ill people. If you’ve been vaccinated for a disease, you can’t infect other people who for medical reasons can’t be vaccinated themselves.

Vaccination infoline: 0844 448 448

(advice free of charge, charge for long distance call in Switzerland)

Side-effects of vaccinations

As a rule vaccinations are well tolerated. But as with drugs, side-effects can occur, with swelling, redness, pain at the injection site and occasionally fever resulting. These side-effects disappear within a few days. Serious side-effects and lasting damage are extremely rare.

No vaccination is without its risks. But the dangers are much less serious than if you become infected naturally. By law the doctor must notify the authorities if serious side-effects occur. The person affected can also report serious side-effects by himself. Individuals affected by serious side effects also have the possibility of applying to the federal government for compensation or indemnification for uncovered consequential costs. Further information can be found on the website of the FDHA (available in German, French, Italian).

Medicinal prophylactics

There are some communicable diseases for which there is no vaccination. Even so, you can take prophylactic medication for some of these diseases. The best-known example is malaria prophylaxis. It substantially reduces the risk of getting the disease.

For some diseases such as hepatitis there’s a prophylactic treatment that can be used even after potential infection (post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP). It’s mainly geared to healthcare personnel and patients.

Information brochures and fact sheets

Our publications give you an overview of and access to brochures and fact sheets on different vaccination-related topics.

Further information


The Confederation, together with the cantons and other stakeholders, has drawn up a national vaccination strategy (NVS) with the aim of guaranteeing that the population is sufficiently protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Last modification 15.05.2024

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Division Communicable diseases
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Bern
Tel. +41 58 463 87 06

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