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VACCINATION

‘Mood is getting more aggressive’: Thousands of people in Germany caught skipping line for Covid vaccine

Thousands of people across Germany are giving false information or being aggressive towards medical staff in a bid to get a Covid-19 jab before they're eligible, German media reports.

'Mood is getting more aggressive': Thousands of people in Germany caught skipping line for Covid vaccine
Vaccination centre staff in Stuttgart on May 3rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weissbrod

There are fresh calls for penalties for those who try to dupe vaccination centre staff or GPs.

“Thousands are caught, but there are no sanctions,” said the board of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, Eugen Brysch, reported Spiegel on Tuesday. 

Pushing to the front of a line for a Covid vaccine when you’re ineligible is not classed as an offence by authorities. But, according to German media reports, many vaccination centres are concerned about the aggressiveness of those who want a jab – and their increasing attempts to obtain it.

READ ALSO: How people across Germany have skipped Covid-19 vaccine queues

Regional broadcaster SWR’s show Report Mainz said they had uncovered several thousand cases in Germany per week.

The Hamburg vaccination centre alone reported that 2,000 people tried to skip the queue in one week. In order to get a vaccination appointment early, people have been giving a false age or occupation, the centre said.

In Munich, up to 350 people are being caught trying to jump the queue every week, and in Saarbrücken up to 140 people are doing this.

The editors of the show asked vaccination centres in the state capitals for information, but not all of them are recording the numbers of people who have tried to jump the line.

“The mood is getting more aggressive. Some people know that they are not entitled, and yet they try to get vaccinated,” Martin Helfrich, spokesman for the Hamburg social authority, told the broadcaster.

According to the report, research shows that vaccine fraudsters often pretend to be high-priority contact persons for people in need of care or pregnant women.

A person in need of care or a pregnant woman can name two contact people who can be vaccinated as a priority.

The SWR team said they were aware of a case when eight young and healthy people – instead of two – managed to get vaccinated as contact persons.

Vaccines have become even more desirable after the German government said fully vaccinated people – and those who’ve recovered from Covid-19 – face fewer coronavirus restrictions. They no longer have to stick to, curfews, contact restrictions and most quarantine rules, for example.

READ ALSO: How do you prove you’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19?

Priority order lifted for J&J and AstraZeneca

Germany follows a strict priority order on who gets the vaccine first, based mainly on age, health condition and occupation. This is set to be lifted some time in June and opened up to all adults. Currently states are vaccinating priority groups two and three, which includes the over 60s and key workers.

The requirements on who can get a vaccine first is based on the recommendations of standing vaccine committee STIKO.

State health ministers on Monday, however, lifted the vaccination prioritisation for Johnson & Johnson, opening it up to all adults. Last week the AstraZeneca vaccine was also opened up to all adults across Germany.  Previously only a handful of states had lifted the priority order for AstraZeneca.

READ ALSO: Germany makes J&J available to all adults: What you need to know

Both vaccines are associated with very rare serious side effects linked to blood clotting conditions. For this reason, Germany advises that they are given to people over the age of 60.

However, if someone under 60 wants one of these vaccines it is possible after a risk analysis and consultation with the doctor giving the vaccine.

‘Threatening behaviour’

With a view to the tide of people who want to get a jab, Brysch said: “Now vaccines are being released (to all adults). This creates massive pressure in the vaccination centres and among general practitioners.

“We hear about psychological and physical threatening gestures on the patient protection hotline.”

In February, the Patient Protection Foundation (die Stiftung Patientenschutz) demanded penalties for those who were caught skipping the line in Germany, but no action was taken.

But it is a tricky topic as doctors have been vaccinating people who are not on the priority list if they have leftover doses at the end of the day. This is to make sure fewer shots go to waste.

Overall, Germany has now administered more than 35 million vaccine doses against coronavirus. Around 27.3 million were first doses and about 7.8 million for second jabs (as of Monday May 10th).

A total of 32.8 percent of the population has received at least one shot. So far 9.4 percent of the population is fully inoculated.

Vocabulary

Vaccination campaign – (die) Impfkampagne

Penalties/punishments – (die) Strafen

Aggressiveness – (die) Aggressivität

ineligible/not entitled – nicht berechtigt

Vaccination prioritisation – (die) Impfpriorisierung

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. People are Selfish – if they know they can try, and if they fail there is no penalty, they will do it.
    Another example of how badly the innoculation roll-out has been handled – every one of those “false” appointments is a slot that a person who is in the queue does not get, & so it delays the process further.
    I’m over 60 & in Dortmund they have not even started allowing appointments for the 60+ age group, yet they are talking about opening up the system to everyone “June latest”. That’s what you get in an Election Year.

  2. It sucks that some people are so self-centered like this, but at a rate of 2 million shots a week, 20k cheaters is 1%, meaning put in perspective this is tremendously good!
    I would much rather allow some jerks to cut the line and keep the speed fast than cause delays and slow the process to check and verify every single person (who by the way will need a shot eventually anyways). Speed is the only way to win… and if cheating is less than 1%, this is a nothingburger.

    1. I agree. There seems to be way too much complaining, besides none of us are really safe until all of us (meaning the world) are inoculated.

  3. I hate queue jumpers; especially when they are aggressive, unintelligent in their approach and undeserving before others who have adhered to all the rules.

    At the same time?
    Let’s just vaccinate everyone!
    The more people vaccinated? The more chance we have of working again and getting on with life (and being able to pay taxes that benefit so many).

  4. One may not agree with the system of priority groups but once set they should be followed. At the moment it seems as if ‘people in the know’ or those prepared to lie can jump the supposed queue. Ultimately this undermines the whole system and discredits the rules as spouted by STIKO, RKI and the politicians. Remove peoples’ beliefs in a fair system and anarchy and chaos follow, that is what we have now.

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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