From next week, all adults – regardless if they are in a priority group or not – will have the chance to book a Covid-19 vaccine at a family doctor in the two southern German states.
Bavarian state premier Markus Söder confirmed the move after the CSU parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday. He said it would happen “over the course of next week” to give doctors time to prepare, reported broadcaster BR24.
Germany follows a strict priority list for who can receive a Covid vaccine first, mainly based on age, health condition and occupation.
So far, authorities have only lifted the priority list for vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The federal government plans to offer all vaccines, including the two other approved vaccines BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, to all adults in June.
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However, Bavaria said it plans to offer vaccines to everyone sooner.
Baden-Württemberg also announced that it would allow GPs to vaccinate all adults even if they are not in a priority group from Monday.
It comes despite the state health minister Manfred Lucha urging people to wait their turn for a jab.
According to Lucha, those most at risk from Covid need solidarity from society. “This includes waiting your turn to be vaccinated,” Lucha said in Stuttgart on Tuesday.
In both states, the offer only applies to GPs at this point; vaccination centres will still follow the priority list.
Vaccine still in short supply
The Bavarian GP Association welcomed the move to lift the priority order for all coronavirus vaccines in medical practices.
“We stand for pragmatism,” state chairman Markus Beier told broadcaster BR24. He said GP patients were growing impatient as they are desperate to be inoculated against Covid.
However, Beier said there needed to be clear communication on the availability of vaccine supplies.
The German Foundation for Patient Protection slammed the planned vaccine release.
As long as there is not enough vaccine doses, politicians could cause a “rift” in society with a decision like this, said board member Eugen Brysch.
“It’s not the prioritisation that hinders vaccination progress, but rather the lack of vaccine,” he said.
The decisions in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to allow family doctors vaccinate people regardless of the risk group priority list are an example of “how you can both increase the vaccination pressure on doctors and create frustration in society,” he said.
Further opening steps for Bavaria
Meanwhile, Bavaria plans to allow outdoor swimming pools to open from May 21st with conditions including negative Covid tests (for unvaccinated guests) if the 7-day incidence stays below 100.
Likewise, outdoor cultural events with up to 250 people are to be allowed. Prerequisites are fixed seating, tests and hygiene plans.
After Whitsun later in May, Söder said, there would be a review of the possibilities for indoor dining. “All in all, we have done really well, despite one or two setbacks,” he said.
He emphasised that a cautious strategy was still needed.