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German unemployment rate rises for first time since June

German unemployment was stable in February with a small increase, official data showed Tuesday, amid the pain of prolonged shutdowns to slow the spread of Covid-19.

German unemployment rate rises for first time since June
A woman walked past a closed cafe in Munich at the weekend. Photo: DPA

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in Europe’s top economy stood at 6 percent, the same level as in January, according to the BA federal labour agency.

However, the number of unemployed people rose slightly for the first time since June, with an extra 9,000 people out of work.

In total, there were 509,000 more people unemployed than in February 2019.

Germany closed restaurants, bars, gyms and cultural centres in November before adding schools and non-essential shops in December as it was hit by a second coronavirus wave.

The measures have since been extended until March 7th, though some schools, hairdressers, attractions and shops have been allowed to reopen in parts of the country.

READ ALSO: ‘I look normal again’: German residents rejoice as hairdressers reopen

The shutdowns have prompted employers to rely more heavily on a government-subsidised scheme that allows them to reduce workers’ hours so as to avoid outright layoffs.

Another 500,000 employees were placed on the short-time working scheme in February, compared with 745,000 in January.

A total of almost 2.4 million workers were on short-time working arrangements in December.

“Short-time work continues to secure employment on a large scale and prevents unemployment,” BA chairman Detlef Scheele said.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Germany’s ‘Kurzarbeit’ job support scheme

The average German worker saw a drop in real wages in 2020 for the first time since 2007, according to federal statistics agency Destatis.

Germany recorded 3,943 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours on Tuesday and 358 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute health agency.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and German regional leaders are due to meet again Wednesday to discuss possible further relaxations of the shutdown measures.

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HEALTH

When, where and how can I get the flu shot in Germany?

Seasonal flu vaccines, Covid boosters, and the monkeypox vaccine are recommended for risk groups in Germany as it gets colder. Here’s what you need to know.

When, where and how can I get the flu shot in Germany?

Flu cases are way up in Germany this year – back to over 22,000 nationwide so far, and those are just the laboratory-confirmed ones. With many Covid-19 restrictions also having slowed the spread of flu in 2020 and 2021, German doctors are particularly encouraging at-risk groups to get this year’s flu vaccine.

Who?

In principle, anyone in Germany can speak to their doctor and get the flu vaccine. However, it is recommended particularly for certain at-risk groups.

According to the German Robert Kock Institute (RKI), which advises the government on viruses, these groups include:

  • anyone over the age of 60
  • pregnant women from their second trimester
  • people with chronic underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, or various heart conditions
  • People who live or work in care homes
  • Medical personnel
  • People who work in areas with particularly high amounts of traffic. These could include schools or Kitas, for example
  • People who live with or care for someone from one of these groups

When?

Flu season’s peak is normally expected in January. That’s why doctors advise you to have your protection in place before then. So the best time to get vaccinated for the flu is between October and December.

With the vaccine taking about 10-14 days to kick in, doctors advise making sure you have the shot by mid-December, so that when the season peaks in January, your body is prepared to fight off the virus if you come in contact with it.

Where?

The easiest place to get a flu vaccine is at your doctor’s office. However, some health authorities run public vaccination campaigns, depending on your federal state. Some workplaces may also administer flu shots on site once a year.

For the first time this season though, pharmacies in Germany will be able to administer a flu shot to any adult with statutory health insurance. Check with your local pharmacy to see if they do it.

Can I get the flu shot at the same time as my Covid-19 booster shot?

In most cases, there are no restrictions on getting the flu shot and a Covid booster at the same time. Most flu vaccines given in Germany are inactivated viruses, which can be administered simultaneously with a flu shot. You don’t have to wait between getting one shot and getting the other.

If giving it you at the same time, your doctor will likely use both arms – one for each vaccine.

READ ALSO: What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

What about Monkeypox?

Germany has now seen its total number of reported monkeypox cases hit 3,656—with around half of all cases being reported in Berlin. With more and more people getting vaccinated though, the seven-day average of new infections has slowed from a peak of 71 per day in mid-July to less than one a day in October.

That’s far less than the US rate of 105 a day or even Spain at just over four a day.

The vast majority of cases worldwide and in Germany have been detected in gay and bisexual men, whom German health authorities are still advising to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

Other risk groups include people who work in certain laboratories where they might become exposed, and people who have already potentially been exposed.

Someone who suspects they’ve been in contact with a confirmed case of monkeypox is advised to get a vaccine shot within four days.

READ ALSO: Who can get the monkeypox vaccine in Germany – and how?

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