What's the latest?
Germany aims to start vaccinating people against coronavirus on December 27th after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved by the EU. It's already been approved by other places across the world including the US and the UK.
On Friday Health Minister Jens Spahn laid out how the vaccinations will be rolled out, and who will get the jabs first.
So who will get it first?
All going well, the first people to receive the vaccine will be the very elderly (over 80s) and care staff in nursing homes (more details below).
According to Spahn, this phase will take one to two months.
“Protecting the most vulnerable is the first goal of our vaccination campaign,” Spahn said on Friday.
(article continues below)
See also on The Local:
How many doses will Germany get?
The German government expects about 3-4 million doses to be available by the end of January, and 11-13 million doses by the end of March 2021.
That means it is likely to take until March to immunise the first group alone.
The population of the country is around 83 million.
After one to two months, the programme will be broadened out. “The winter will still be long,” the Health Minister warned.
He also appealed to people who receive the vaccination not to then disregard coronavirus restrictions, such as wearing a mask. These restrictions will have to remain until everyone has protection against Covid-19.
Spahn also called for patience. “It is important to me that not everyone tries to get an appointment on the 27th or 28th now,” he said.
He added that the vaccination regulations would be adjusted should more vaccine doses become available. The transition between vaccinations of different priority levels will be smooth, he said.
A coronavirus vaccination centre in Nuremberg. Photo: DPA
Who is also a priority?
Spahn confirmed that medical staff in intensive care units would also be in the first priority group. But the very first vaccinations will be given to people in care homes.
The minister emphasised that he was following the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO).
“I ask you to wait until it is your turn as well,” Spahn said. “We start first with the elderly, the very old, those who care for them and look after them, to protect those very vulnerable.”
So who is on the list to receive a vaccination in the coming weeks and months?
The government has identified these groups:
As we said, the first category includes people over the age of 80, residents and staff at nursing homes.
This group also includes employees of outpatient care services as well as employees of medical facilities “with a very high risk of exposure” to Covid-19. This includes staff in intensive care units or vaccination centres.
The second high priority category includes people aged 70 and over, dementia patients (or those with similar conditions), those with underlying health conditions and transplant patients.
People with Down's Syndrome will also be in this group, along with those who work in close contact with people in need of care.
Doctors and other health workers with a higher risk of Covid-19 exposure will also be in this group, as well as essential hospital workers.
Residents of shelters for the homeless or asylum seekers will also be in this group.
Next high priority
The third category includes people over the age of 60, the chronically ill, people “in particularly relevant positions in state institutions” such as police, as well as nursery educators, teachers and retail workers.
It also includes any remaining health workers not in the first two groups.
People working in places particularly badly affected by Covid-19, such as meat processing plants and warehouses, will also form part of this group.
These three groups are then to be followed by the remaining residents in Germany.