GPs in Germany call for vaccines to be given according to health not age

GPs in Germany call for vaccines to be given according to health not age
Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel
Health should be prioritised over age to determine the order in which vaccinations are given once Germany has sufficient vaccine supplies, Ulrich Weigeldt, head of the German Association of General Practitioners.

“Prioritisation was and is a good guideline for doctors when only small supplies of vaccines are available,” Weigeldt told the Rheinische Post on Friday.

However, he felt that the focus should be more on an individual’s health status as soon as possible.

“A 69-year-old man with high blood pressure and diabetes should perhaps receive the vaccination sooner than a 72-year-old triathlete,” Weigeldt explained.

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Currently, the order of vaccination is determined primarily by age, with the population split into three groups: over-80s, 70-80s and 60-70s.

As shown in the government chart below, group one has first priority and includes the over-80s, people in care homes, staff working in intensive care, emergency departments and emergency services.

Group 1: over-80s. Group 2: 70-80s. Group 3: 60-70s.

Once vaccine supplies exceeded a certain amount, the important thing was to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, said Weigeldt, explaining that this was why GP practices should also receive all the different vaccine types.

He said there was no reason for vaccination centres to be favoured over family doctors’ surgeries, adding that the important thing was that people got vaccinated.

“And we know that this happens more quickly if vaccinations take place where people want to get vaccinated,” Weigeldt added. 

GPs are set to start vaccinations in the week after Easter. By the end of April, family doctors’ surgeries should have more than three million doses of vaccine available each week, according to Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn.

For the first two weeks, Germany plans to use only BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine, followed by AstraZeneca from April 19th and Johnson & Johnson the week after that. 

READ ALSO: Family doctors in Germany are to begin offering Covid-19 jabs as vaccine campaign speeds up

Despite Germany advising against using the AstraZeneca vaccine in the under-60s this week, Spahn said he still expected every adult to be offered a jab by September 21st.

He said the AstraZeneca vaccine could be used more quickly in older age groups.

As of March 31st, just 11.8 percent of the German population had received a first jab, while less than 5 percent had received both doses.

The chart shows the pace of the vaccination rollout in Germany, indicating the number of people vaccinated daily as a rolling seven-day average. Source: Our World in Data

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why has Germany restricted the use of AstraZeneca in under 60s?

Meanwhile, Klaus Reinhardt, president of the German Medical Association, has called for vaccines reserved for second doses to be freed up for short-term use to help stem a third wave of infections.

According to the supplies promised by the government, there would be sufficient capacity for the second jabs from the end of April, he told the Rheinische Post. 

The number of new infections in Germany remains high.
 
 
The rolling seven-day average of daily confirmed new Covid-19 cases, clearly highlighting the current upwards trend. Source: Our World in Data.
 
In the last 24 hours, 18,129 new cases of Covid-19 were reported to the Robert Koch Institute, as well as 120 deaths following an infection with the virus.

Cases have increased slightly over the last seven days, according to the seven-day-incidence rate. According to RKI data, cases stood at 131 per 100,000 residents on Saturday, compared with 125 a week earlier. 

Case levels are also significantly higher than last month, when the figure briefly fell to below 60.


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