Berlin, Bavaria, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, have announced that they are releasing the vaccine to all age groups over 18, reported broadcaster ZDF.
Germany officially recommends that the vaccine is given out only to over 60s due to blood clotting concerns. However, if a patient has a detailed consultation with a doctor and discusses the risks, the AstraZeneca vaccine can be administered to those not over the age of 60.
The Bundesrepublik is also currently bound by a strict system of priority groups drawn up by the STIKO vaccine commission, which is mostly defined by age.
But state health authorities said they were releasing the vaccine to those who were interested so that fewer doses would go to waste.
The release of AstraZeneca in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is “an offer that those who have no or few reservations about the vaccine can take advantage of”, said Health Minister Harry Glawe (CDU).
Saxony took a similar route. The state said many people who are eligible for a vaccine are waiting for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine even though they could have the AstraZeneca one now.
Bavaria is also following. “Astrazeneca’s prioritisation has been lifted with immediate effect, and the vaccine can be offered in doctors’ surgeries to people under 60,” said state health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) on Wednesday.
Berlin announced on Thursday it was to follow the lead of other states.
“In the current wave of infections, it is important to immunise as many people as possible as soon as possible – including with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which requires a lot of education,” said Berlin health senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD).
Since the start of April, AstraZeneca has only been administered in Berlin by GPs and in specialist practices, rather than vaccination centres.
The health ministries of Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia told Reuters news agency that they were not planning any changes.
The federal Health Ministry reacted cautiously to the announcement by the states. “There is a recommendation by STIKO, on the basis of which we have formulated a vaccination regulation,” said a spokesman for the ministry.
The move by some federal states to ignore the priority list comes as the government passed amendments to the law to give the government more power to implement nationwide Covid measures.
Meanwhile, earlier on Thursday, federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said he expected every adult to be offered a Covid jab by June at the latest.
Spahn said he is hoping “that we will be able to lift the prioritisation in June”. He added that it might happen earlier.