Bremen becomes first German state to give Covid jab to more than a fifth of residents

There's good news for the northern German city-state of Bremen - it's become the first in the country to vaccinate more than 20 percent of its population with one dose.

Bremen becomes first German state to give Covid jab to more than a fifth of residents
Bremen harbour. Photo: DPA

It means around a fifth of all Bremen residents – that’s around 20.1 percent or 137,000 people – have received at least one jab in the inoculation campaign. Nationwide, the figure is 16.9 percent.

The northern city-state of Bremen, which has around 569,350 people, is the top performing state when it comes to vaccinations in Germany.

The vaccination dashboard shows a map and the percentage of residents who have received at least one dose. Saarland follows closely behind Bremen, after giving around 19.3 percent of people at least one jab.

READ ALSO: ‘I finally might be able to go home’: What it’s like to be offered the Covid vaccine in Germany

Bremen has fully vaccinated around 6.4 percent of the population. When it comes to residents who’ve received both doses, Thuringia is at the top of the list with 7.5 percent.

About 6.2 percent of the population in Germany is fully inoculated.

So how is Bremen doing it?

According to authorities there, a team effort combined with carrying out vaccinations seven days a week is contributing to the speed of the rollout.

Bremen’s mayor Andreas Bovenschulte, of the Social Democrats (SPD), said that a “likely unprecedented alliance” made up of the Senate, aid organisations and the private sector had been set up for the vaccination centre in Bremen.

“This is unique in Germany,” said Bovenschulte. “We vaccinate seven days a week, even on holidays.” 

Bovenschulte said the city could even give out more injections if even more doses were delivered. 

Bremen has “administered well over 90 percent of the vaccine supplied to us,” said health senator Claudia Bernhard (Left Party).

Germany has lagged behind several other countries including the UK and the US due in part to EU-wide supply issues, regional bureaucratic hurdles and problems with AstraZeneca.

But the country has been gradually picking up speed as vaccines supplies get delivered, and more GPs start vaccinating.

More than 656,000 shots were administered last Wednesday – a record daily amount. And that was followed on Thursday with 719,927 shots – another record. On Tuesday April 13th, around 530,500 shots were administered in Germany.

It is hoped that Johnson & Johnson’s delay to the rollout of its single-dose vaccine in Europe, which came about after US officials urged for a pause on administering the jab on Tuesday, doesn’t cause major problems for EU countries.

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EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point.