Vaccination centres in some German states ‘to close over Easter’

Vaccination centres in some parts of Germany will be closed over the Easter long weekend, prompting anger as the country struggles with a sluggish rollout.

Vaccination centres in some German states 'to close over Easter'
People outside a vaccination centre in Braunschweig on March 24th. Photo: DPA

According to a survey by German daily Bild, vaccination centres in the state of Brandenburg, which is next to Berlin, will not be open on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

Thuringia, also initially said vaccines were not to take place over the holidays, except on Saturday at a vaccination centre in Erfurt.

However, the state later told Bild that vaccinations would be closed on Easter Sunday due to a lack of supplies but would be open on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Monday.

In other federal states, including Baden-W├╝rttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, closures are possible, according to the state governments – it depends on how much vaccine doses are available.

In Bremen, Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, however, jabs will continue.

In Saarland, vaccinations are generally not carried out on Sundays.

While more than 300,000 people get their shots on weekdays, on Saturdays and Sundays there are typically fewer than 150,000 injections carried out per day.

Under 138,000 doses were administered across German states on Sunday, slightly less than the week before.

The news of some centres shutting over the Easter weekend prompted outrage on social media.

“Couldn’t make it up,” said Ragnar Weilandt on Twitter.

Why is it taking so long to vaccinate?

Germany has come under fire for its slow rollout of jabs, lagging far behind the pace of other countries including the USA, Israel and the UK.

Just under 11 percent of the German population have received the first vaccination dose, while Israel has already jabbed 60 percent of people.

And it’s not just an EU-wide shortage of vaccine supplies causing the snail pace – many people consider bureaucracy, different state procedures and the inflexible vaccination prioritisation list to be causing problems.

READ ALSO: When will I be in line for a Covid-19 vaccination?

Medical staff are not allowed to stray from the priority list, prompting fears that vaccine doses are being left unused.

Germany also suffered a setback on the speed of the campaign after suspending the AstraZeneca vaccine to investigate a possible connection to blood clots.

READ ALSO: How badly did the AstraZeneca suspension hit Germany’s rollout

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Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid

More than 40 million people in Germany have received at least one vaccination against the coronavirus so far, while a quarter of the population are fully inoculated, new government data shows.

Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid
A vaccine is prepared in Munich. credit: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Cracking the 40 million mark means that 48.1 percent of the total population has now received at least a first jab against the disease, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) that was released on Saturday.

Some 21.35 million people have received both jabs while 60.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Germany so far.

This week, for the first time, the million mark in daily vaccinations was cracked on three days, Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) wrote on Twitter. According to the RKI, about two-thirds of all vaccinations have been administered in vaccination centres, and one-third in doctors’ offices.

Among the states, Bremen continues to record the highest proportion of people with first-time vaccinations at 52.9 percent, with Saxony bringing up the rear at 43.0 percent.

Meanwhile Saarland has the highest proportion of residents with full coverage, at 30.4 percent, and has also administered the most vaccine doses per resident to date.

While the first five months of the vaccine programme were based on a priority list, since Monday everyone resident in the country can register themselves for a vaccine appointment.

Case rate continues to fall

Health authorities reported 1,911 new infections to the RKI on Saturday morning. A week ago that figure stood at 2,294 new infections. The seven-day incidence dropped lightly to 18.3 from 18.6 cases per 100,000 people on Friday.

Nationwide, 129 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours on Saturday.

Opposition plans inquiry into pandemic failures

Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy leader of the Free Democrats, has said his party will push for a Bundestag inquiry into the pandemic response after September’s national election.

“There needs to be a parliamentary review of this after the election,” Kubicki said on Saturday at a party convention. “That was the announcement of a committee of inquiry,” he confirmed when asked for clarification by a journalist.

Kubicki criticized, among other things, the purchase of “unfit masks” by Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). He said that the committee would also look into controversial aspects of the pandemic response including the government’s testing strategy and the disputes over whether intensive care units reached breaking point.

SEE ALSO: 7 things the Covid-19 crisis has taught us about Germany