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HEALTH

German vaccine panel recommends monkeypox jab for risk groups

Germany's Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) has issued a provisional recommendation for at-risk groups to receive a shot against monkeypox.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach speaks at a press conference on monkeypox in Bremen on May 24th.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach speaks at a press conference on monkeypox in Bremen on May 24th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Melissa Erichsen

Risk groups include people who have had close physical contact with someone infected with monkeypox, laboratory staff who have had unprotected contact with samples, as well as men who regularly have different male sexual partners.

According to STIKO, the smallpox vaccine Imvanex, which has already been approved in the EU, will be available for the jabs. This vaccine protects against both smallpox and monkeypox due to the similarity of the viruses, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has said. 

To achieve basic immunisation, people should get two vaccine doses with an interval of about 28 days between the jabs. For people who have already been vaccinated against smallpox in the past, a single dose is enough, according to experts. 

The draft decision still has to go through a so-called ‘commenting procedure’ with the federal states and experts, so it is not yet a final recommendation.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the vaccine would be ready by June 15th. He said a plan for how vaccinations will be carried out was being developed. 

READ ALSO: Germany expects 40,000 doses of monkeypox in June

Germany has registered 131 confirmed cases of the monkeypox virus, according to authorities. 

Many of the cases known so far in Germany concern homosexual and bisexual men. The RKI said this is why this group was viewed as at-risk, and should be especially protected during the viral outbreak. 

What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?

Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) that causes small lesions on the skin, headaches and fever. It’s similar to chickenpox or smallpox, though the illness tends to be less severe than smallpox.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED – How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox virus

The virus is mostly caught through close physical skin-to-skin contact, which is why it can be spread to sexual partners (although it is not a sexually transmitted infection).

The symptoms of the disease caused by the virus are generally mild and clear up in 2-4 weeks without treatment, but can occasionally result in more serious illness if the patient has immune system difficulties. 

Monkeypox is related to smallpox, which killed millions of people every year for centuries until the disease was eradicated in 1980. However, monkeypox is much less dangerous. Most of those who contract monkeypox recover within a few weeks, and fatal illness is rare.

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HEALTH

The vocab you need for a trip to the dentist in Germany

Going to the dentist can be daunting at the best of times and being unsure of the language can make things ten times worse. We’ve put together a guide of the German words and phrases you need to help take some of the pain away.

The vocab you need for a trip to the dentist in Germany

When you arrive at the dentist, you’ll usually be asked if you’re gesetzlich or privat versichert (if you have state or private health insurance) and asked to present your health insurance card. However, for most procedures, you will still have to pay something extra on top. 

The most common reason for a trip to the dentist (Zahnarzt) is having eine Vorsorgeuntersuchung (check-up) or a cleaning appointment (eine Zahnreinigung or eine Prophylaxe) which most dentists recommend having twice a year.

Most health insurers won’t reimburse the full cost of teeth cleaning – so make sure you check beforehand with your Krankenkasse which costs are covered.

In a cleaning appointment, the dentist will remove plaque (der Zahnbelag) and check the health of your teeth (die Zähne) and gums (das Zahnfleisch). If they tell you that they see Karies (tooth decay) then you may be told to come back for another appointment to get a filling (eine Zahnfüllung or eine Plombe).

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

They will certainly remind you at the end of the appointment to use Zahnseide (dental floss) on a daily basis (täglich) and also recommend that you use Interdentalbürsten (interdental brushes) for cleaning in between the teeth.

In the chair

When you actually get into the hot seat, you will be usually asked to do certain things by your dentist or dental assistant (Zahntechniker) so they can do what they need to do.

The first thing you’ll usually be asked to do is ausspülen bitte – to rinse your mouth with mouthwash (die Mundspülung) usually in a plastic cup in a little sink next to the dental chair. They might ask you to keep the liquid in your mouth for a certain number of seconds until they tell you to ausspucken (spit it out).

A woman undergoes a dental examination. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Markus Scholz

When you’re lying down, you’ll inevitably be told Mund öffnen bitte or aufmachen bitte (open your mouth) and likewise, you might be asked to zumachen (close) your mouth at some point. Other typical instructions in the dentist’s chair are: Mundlocker lassen (relax your mouth), Kopf zu mir drehen (turn your head towards me) and Kinn nach oben (chin upwards).

Types of dental issues

There are numerous complaints that could compel you to pay a visit to the dentist, but one of the most common is having a filling (eine Zahnfüllung) or having a crown (eine Zahnkrone).Your health insurance will cover the cost of the most basic kind of material for filling up a cavity, but you will be presented with a price list (or if you aren’t – ask) for the different types of materials for crowns or fillings.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How dental care works in Germany

Another common complaint is having to have a tooth removed (eine Zahnextraction) – a particularly common procedure for a wisdom tooth (der Weisheitszahn). A more serious extraction procedure is a root canal treatment (eine Wuzelkanalbehandlung).

If you have this kind of procedure, you will normally be offered a local anaesthetic (örtliche Betäubung or Lokalanästhesie) and you may also need an X-Ray (ein Röntgen).

More useful phrases and vocabulary

Braces – (die) Zahnspangen

Sensitive teeth – empfindliche

ZähneTooth pain – (der) Zahnschmerz

Dentures – (die) ProtheseI have toothache when I chew/drink – Ich habe Zahnschmerzen beim kauen/trinken

I have light/strong pain on this tooth – Ich habe leichte/starke Schmerzen an diesem Zahn

My gums are inflamed – Ich habe eine Entzündung am Zahnfleisch

I am nervous about the treatment – Ich habe Angst vor der Behandlung

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