‘We won’t be able to vaccinate everyone in June,’ warns German Health Minister

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has urged German residents to have realistic expectations about the vaccination roll-out in Germany, saying lifting the priority list doesn't mean all adults will get a jab immediately.

'We won't be able to vaccinate everyone in June,' warns German Health Minister
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn on Friday. Photo: DPA

Spahn raised hopes on Thursday when he announced that Covid vaccines would be open to adults from June. At the moment Germany follows a strict priority list on who can get the jab first, mainly based on age, health conditions and their line of work.

However, on Friday during a press conference he urged residents to remain realistic.

Spahn said the plan is to lift the priority list in June, opening vaccine appointments out to all adults – but it might not happen at the beginning of the month.

And he added: “This doesn’t mean that we’ll then be able to vaccinate everyone in June.”

READ ALSO: Germany expects to offer all adults a Covid jab ‘by June’

Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, had also urged people not to have too high expectations. He told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that there will still be long waiting times for appointments because there won’t be enough vaccine doses.

However, the goal is still for every adult to be offered a Covid vaccine by September 21st.

As of Friday a total of 18.5 million people in Germany – around 22.2 percent – had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. Around 7.8 percent of the population has been fully inoculated.

Vaccination summit to discuss privileges

On Monday, a meeting between the Chancellor’s Office and the state premiers will take place to discuss the way forward on opening up vaccines to the population in Germany.

It comes after four German states – Bavaria, Berlin, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – removed their priority list for the AstraZeneca vaccine, opening it up to all adults (not just over 60s) as long as the patient has a consultation with a doctor.

Green Party health expert Janosch Dahmen, told the FAZ newspaper that he saw the actions of the states as “another sign of the disintegration of the federal government’s crisis management”.

Other states such as North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony say that they are not going down this route.

Another topic at the summit will be privileges for vaccinated people. According to Spahn, there will probably be no entitlement that allows restaurants to open up for vaccinated people, for example. He also doesn’t think inoculated people will be exempt from curfews.

However, Spahn said he’s not sure what the final decisions will be.

‘Stand together’

Germany this week brought in controversial changes to the Infection Protection Act. The law prescribes for ’emergency brake’ measures, such as curfews and stricter shutdowns, to come into force in districts and cities with high Covid rates.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new emergency brake Covid measures to come into force on Saturday

Spahn urged people to remember why the country needed tougher measures. There are many hospitals in Germany where the workload is very high, especially for staff, he said.

Lars Schaade, vice-president of the Robert Koch Institute, called for people to stick to the restrictions. “These weeks are difficult for all of us, so it is all the more important that we all stand together as a society,” said Schaade.

The number of new infections is rising, especially in the 30-59 age group. This group, like young people, has not yet been vaccinated for the most part.

But even for younger and healthy people, “this virus is not harmless”, said Schaade. “Severe courses can also occur in younger people.”

He added that recent studies show 10 percent of those infected developed long Covid symptoms.

READ MORE: Where are Covid-19 cases going up (and down) in Germany?

On Friday Germany logged 27,543 coronavirus cases within the last 24 hours, and 265 deaths. The nationwide 7-day incidence increased to 164.

Member comments

  1. Spahn? It is really hard to remain realistic when Germany is lagging so severely behind a number of countries. Faith is diminishing in the Government in vaccinating it’s population.

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Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid

More than 40 million people in Germany have received at least one vaccination against the coronavirus so far, while a quarter of the population are fully inoculated, new government data shows.

Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid
A vaccine is prepared in Munich. credit: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Cracking the 40 million mark means that 48.1 percent of the total population has now received at least a first jab against the disease, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) that was released on Saturday.

Some 21.35 million people have received both jabs while 60.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Germany so far.

This week, for the first time, the million mark in daily vaccinations was cracked on three days, Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) wrote on Twitter. According to the RKI, about two-thirds of all vaccinations have been administered in vaccination centres, and one-third in doctors’ offices.

Among the states, Bremen continues to record the highest proportion of people with first-time vaccinations at 52.9 percent, with Saxony bringing up the rear at 43.0 percent.

Meanwhile Saarland has the highest proportion of residents with full coverage, at 30.4 percent, and has also administered the most vaccine doses per resident to date.

While the first five months of the vaccine programme were based on a priority list, since Monday everyone resident in the country can register themselves for a vaccine appointment.

Case rate continues to fall

Health authorities reported 1,911 new infections to the RKI on Saturday morning. A week ago that figure stood at 2,294 new infections. The seven-day incidence dropped lightly to 18.3 from 18.6 cases per 100,000 people on Friday.

Nationwide, 129 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours on Saturday.

Opposition plans inquiry into pandemic failures

Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy leader of the Free Democrats, has said his party will push for a Bundestag inquiry into the pandemic response after September’s national election.

“There needs to be a parliamentary review of this after the election,” Kubicki said on Saturday at a party convention. “That was the announcement of a committee of inquiry,” he confirmed when asked for clarification by a journalist.

Kubicki criticized, among other things, the purchase of “unfit masks” by Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). He said that the committee would also look into controversial aspects of the pandemic response including the government’s testing strategy and the disputes over whether intensive care units reached breaking point.

SEE ALSO: 7 things the Covid-19 crisis has taught us about Germany