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VACCINES

Germany lifts priority limits to offer Johnson & Johnson jabs to all

Germany on Monday opened access to Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccines to all adults, lifting a priority system determining who gets the jabs first.

Germany lifts priority limits to offer Johnson & Johnson jabs to all
Prepared vaccinations with Johnson and Johnson. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

With the majority of people over 60 expected to be already vaccinated by June, Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) said authorities decided not to restrict the jabs to older people over the very rare thrombosis risks.

Rather, younger people can choose to take the vaccine, which only requires one shot, after consultation with their doctors, he said.

Spahn noted that some 10 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines would be delivered over June and July — when older people who want the jabs would already have been vaccinated.

“So we are lifting prioritisation for Johnson & Johnson, like we have done for AstraZeneca… so that everyone can have the possibility of getting vaccinated after clarifications with their doctors and based on their individual decisions,” said Spahn.

READ ALSO: Germany gives green light to offer AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults

The move would allow Germany “to work on this vaccination campaign with greater speed, in a pragmatic manner”.

Germany had initially recommended AstraZeneca vaccines only for older people following concerns over several blood clotting cases among younger recipients of the vaccine.

But it has since opened the jabs up to all adults who want them after consultations with doctors.

The European Medicines Agency has said that blood clots should be listed as a rare side effect of both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca jabs but that the benefits continue to outweigh risks.

Both vaccines use the same adenovirus vector technology, unlike jabs made by BioNTech/Pfizer or Moderna, which are messenger RNA vaccines.

So far, only about 18,000 of the 34.4 million vaccine doses administered in Germany have come from American manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

The latest numbers show that 7.6 million people in Germany have been completely vaccinated, or 9.1 percent of the population.

Nearly one in three, or 32.3 percent, has received at least a first shot.

Member comments

    1. I tried calling the hotline and they said I still had to wait if I wasn’t in the third priority group.

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HEALTH

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. 

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