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HEALTH

Germany prepares for 60 coronavirus vaccination centres

The German government is already making plans for Covid-19 vaccinations to take place, a German newspaper reported on Friday.

Germany prepares for 60 coronavirus vaccination centres
A vaccination being administered. Photo: DPA

German daily Bild said the federal Health Ministry has asked the country's 16 state governments to provide the addresses of potential vaccination centres by November 10th.

According to the report, a total of 60 centres are to be established nationwide. The vaccination centres are necessary to guarantee the effectiveness of the vaccine, the reports says. The vaccine will have to be kept cool at minus 78C, but many medical practices lack the necessary efficient cooling devices.

In a video conference involving health ministers at the beginning of the week, federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, of the Christian Democrats is reported to have said that the Mainz-based company BionTech is close to the approval of a vaccine.

When he was asked when he expected the first vaccinations to be administered, Spahn said in the round table: “That could happen before the end of the year,” Bild reported.

READ ALSO: How one German firm is racing to ramp up vaccine

 

BioNTech is teaming up with US behemoth Pfizer to develop a coronavirus vaccine using new technology based on mRNA, a type of genetic material never before used to make a vaccine.

They already have one vaccine candidate in the late-stage Phase 3 trial that is currently being tested on around 30,000 volunteers.

Around eight other vaccine candidates globally have reached this stage so far.

As The Local reported, a recent government document said it is hoped that vaccines “will be authorised and available next year”.

Authorities say this could be a “decisive step towards the control of the pandemic and a return to normality”.

Germany said “substantial funds” have been made available for research, the increase of production capacities and the early availability of vaccines.

READ ALSO: Germany eyes voluntary coronavirus vaccine by mid-2021

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HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

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

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

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