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VACCINE

Germany to give different second jab to AstraZeneca recipients under 60

People aged under 60 who have been given a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in Germany will receive a different jab for their second dose, federal and regional health ministers agreed.

Germany to give different second jab to AstraZeneca recipients under 60
A vaccination centre in Greifswald, northern Germany. Photo: DPA
Germany announced on March 30th  that it would no longer offer the two-dose AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged under 60 due to concerns over a possible link to rare cases of blood clots.
 
DPA news agency said ministers agreed at a meeting that people in the younger age group who received a first AstraZeneca dose before the March 30th announcement will be offered either the BioNTech-Pfizer jab for their second
dose, or the Moderna vaccine.
“The solution that has been found will offer a good level of protection,” Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek told DPA.
 
The new policy is in line with recommendations released last week by Germany’s vaccine commission, which also recommended the second injection be given 12 weeks after the initial AstraZeneca dose.
 
 
Germany is among numerous countries that have restricted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to older people after rare blood clots were detected in a small number of younger people who had received the jab.
 
The European Medicines Agency last week said that unusual blood clots should be listed as a very rare side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while stressing that overall benefits in preventing Covid-19 outweighed the risks.
 
 
There were 222 cases of these atypical thromboses out of 34 million AstraZeneca injections carried out in the European Economic Area (EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein) and Britain, as of April 4, according to the EMA. And there were 18 deaths, as of March 22nd.
 
Most of the cases reported were in women under 60 years of age within two weeks of vaccination.
 
According to Germany’s health ministry some 2.2 million people aged under 60 have received an AstraZeneca dose in recent weeks.
 
Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine has come under similar suspicion for the same issue, with US health authorities recommending Tuesday that it be paused while they investigate six cases of clotting.
 
The World Health Organization has said it cannot recommend switching vaccine between two doses as a protection against Covid-19, due to insufficient data showing the effects.

Member comments

  1. As an under 60 who has received AZ as my first dose, I am glad to finally have some clarity about next steps. However, how will this be done? Will the gov’t be delivering different vaccines to all locations, and should we keep our appointments at what is currently an AZ vaccination site? If house doctors are to receive less BionTech vaccines, how will they be able to keep up with the demand of the second round of shots? Additional information is needed.

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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