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VACCINE

Germany gives green light to offer AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults

Health Minister Jens Spahn has said the priority order for the AstraZeneca vaccine will be lifted so that all adults can apply for it across the country if they want it.

Germany gives green light to offer AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults
People queuing for the AstraZeneca vaccine at a supermarket in Pforzheim, Baden-Württemberg after a doctor set up a mobile surgery there. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Some states, including Berlin, Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony, have already been allowing everyone over the age of 18 to apply for an AstraZeneca jab.

Spahn pushed for all 16 states to allow residents to get this vaccine if they want it. This is a move away from the strict priority list which shows who is allowed to book an appointment first.

The order is based on recommendations by the STIKO vaccination committee and focuses mainly on age, health conditions and jobs.

READ ALSO: How do I prove I belong to one of Germany’s priority groups?

Officially, Germany recommends that only over 60s receive this vaccine due to risks connected with very rare blood clot conditions.

However, adults of any age can request the vaccine and be given it after a detailed consultation with a doctor.

Spahn told broadcaster WDR on Wednesday that he planned to talk to state health ministers about opening the vaccine to all adults.

He confirmed later on Thursday that the priority list would be dropped for AstraZeneca, meaning it can be offered to all adults in doctor’ practices and vaccination centres across Germany.

He also said the interval between the first and second vaccination with AstraZeneca – currently 12 weeks – should be handled more flexibly.

States that recently moved to release AstraZeneca to all did so in a bid to avoid doses going to waste. Throughout the vaccination campaign in Germany, reports have emerged of AstraZeneca doses being left unused due in part to people having reservations about receiving it.

On the other hand, there are many younger people who want to be vaccinated with it – but it is not yet their turn because they are not in a priority group.

EXPLAINED: Can I get the AstraZeneca vaccine if I’m not on a priority list?

So far, 30.6 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, and 8.6 percent are fully inoculated.

Germany plans to allow all adults to book an appointment for a jab in June. All adults should be offered a vaccine by September 21st, authorities say.

Covid restrictions set to be eased for the vaccinated

The Bundestag on Thursday passed new regulations put forward by the German government which will see Covid restrictions eased for fully vaccinated people, and those who’ve recovered from Covid-19.

The law will now go to the Bundesrat for approval on Friday

READ ALSO: ‘Closer to normality’: Germany takes step forward to ease Covid rules for vaccinated people

It means that contact restrictions and rules like curfews would no longer apply to people who have had both jabs, and for those who’ve had Covid-19. These groups would also not need a negative Covid test to go shopping or to the hairdresser.

There are calls for further relaxations for people who test negative for Covid-19, for example with regard to contact restrictions.

“Many people have not yet been able to get vaccinated because of a lack of vaccines,” Helmut Dedy, Chief Executive of the German Association of Cities and Towns, told the Funke Media Group newspapers.

In Germany, people who have been tested can do things like visit non-essential shops or cultural institutions. However, because there can be errors, negative rapid tests give far less security against virus transmission than full vaccination protection, experts say.

Germany, together with the EU, wants to introduce a digital coronavirus vaccination pass before the end of June. For those who have already been fully vaccinated, that status is to be transferred from the analogue vaccination certificate. It is hoped that this will help avoid forged vaccination cards.

 

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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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