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Germany’s GPs begin vaccinating patients against Covid-19

For the first time in Germany's vaccination programme, family doctors are allowed to administer jabs.

Germany's GPs begin vaccinating patients against Covid-19
A doctor in Pforzheim, Baden-Württemberg, talking to a patient about the Covid-19 vaccine on March 30th. Photo: DPA

After the painfully slow start to the inoculation campaign in Germany, a new stage is beginning this week: 35,000 GPs nationwide are planning to give residents vaccinations against coronavirus.

Some practices were due to start on Tuesday April 6th, while others are still waiting for vaccine doses and want to follow in the next few days.

Since the start of the rollout at the end of December, injections have so far been administered mainly in the 430 vaccination centres nationwide.

READ ALSO: Germany to make vaccines available at GP practices: What you need to know

Initially, only a small supply of doses is available to family doctors. In the first week, all practices together will receive 940,000 vaccine doses a week.

In purely mathematical terms, that is about 26 doses per practice per week. In the week of April 26th, however, there will be a significant boost to resources – and at that point GPs can expect a total of more than three million doses each week.

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

How will vaccinating work at GPs?

GP practices have to follow the fixed priority order of who can be vaccinated first in Germany.

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

There is no central invitation programme for vaccinating patients, according to the federal Health Ministry. The practices can regulate how they allocate vaccination appointments themselves – for example by phone or with online bookings.

Some family doctors have been vaccinating for some time as part of pilot projects – and in Bavaria jabs by GPs started last week in 1,635 practices.

Calls to speed up vaccine campaign

This weeks marks the second quarter the vaccination campaign when more Covid vaccines are expected after scarce supplies in the first quarter of the year.

The Association of Private Health Insurers (Verband der Privaten Krankenversicherung, PKV) is calling on the federal government to quickly push ahead with vaccines.

“The start of the vaccination campaign, also through GP practices, is the right step, but it is not enough to get the coronavirus vaccine to as many people as possible as quickly as at all possible,” association director Florian Reuther told DPA.

“Already at this stage politicians must prepare the next step and make vaccination possible in companies and with all other groups of doctors and dentists as soon as vaccine supplies increase as expected in the next few weeks.”

Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) had said at the end of March that company doctors should only join the vaccination campaign after GPs.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Health Minister promises more freedom to those fully vaccinated

“There is still too little,” Spahn said of the available doses. He said he found it difficult to vaccinate younger employees of companies as long as the older ones were not yet protected.

But Reuther said the infrastructure of company doctors was particularly suitable. “We already have numerous requests from health insurance companies whose company doctors are immediately available to vaccinate their work forces – but unfortunately are not allowed to order vaccine at the moment,” he said.

Many companies had also offered to vaccinate employees’ family members as well. In Reuther’s view, this would also make sense. He called on the federal government to solve the necessary organisational issues now – “and not only when the vaccines are piling up in the yard”.

READ ALSO: Vaccination centres in some German states ‘to close over Easter

Vocabulary

GPs/general practitioners – (die) Hausärzte (or der Hausarzt as singular)

Surgeries/practices- (die) Praxen (or die Praxis as singular)

Vaccination centres – (die) Impfzentren

Vaccination appointment (der) Impftermin

Company doctor/in-house doctor – (der) Betriebsarzt

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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VACCINE

‘This can be a good summer’: Half of Germans vaccinated at least once against Covid

One in two Germans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, health authorities said Friday, before warning against complacency as the Delta variant is expected to become the dominant strain.

'This can be a good summer': Half of Germans vaccinated at least once against Covid
Jens Spahn. Photo: DPA/Carsten Koall

Some 50.1 percent of the total German population, or 41.66 million people, have now been vaccinated at least once against the coronavirus, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Friday.

At the same time 29.6 percent of the population now has full protection – that’s just under 25 million people.

“This can be a good summer,” said Health Minister Jens Spahn on Friday, before saying that the country needed to remain vigilant due to the spread of the Delta variant.

RKI President Lothar Wieler meanwhile warned that the numbers also showed that millions of people were still completely unprotected or only partially protected.

In order to largely dispense with the pandemic measures, the German government wants to hit 80 percent immunity – either through complete vaccination or an infection plus vaccination. 

The Delta variant, first identified in India, doubled to just over 6 percent of all new infections in Germany during the week ending June 6th in comparison with the previous seven days.

“By the autumn, it will be the dominant strain,” said Wieler.

It was “biologically logical” for the strain to become dominant simply because it was more infectious, he said.

Germany has eased most restrictions, reopening restaurants, shops, pools and museums in recent weeks as new infections dip sharply.

On Friday, it recorded 1,076 new cases, while the number of new cases over a seven day period continued to drop to 10 per 100,000 people.

Wieler said however that it was necessary to keep wearing masks indoors, such as on public transport or at offices.

“We have achieved really good results but the virus is still active and please let us give this virus no chance,” he urged.

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