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VACCINE

German Health Minister predicts 90 percent of people who want vaccine will have one by mid-July

Health Minister Jens Spahn says Germany is on track to offer nine out of 10 adults who are willing to be vaccinated a shot by mid-July.

German Health Minister predicts 90 percent of people who want vaccine will have one by mid-July
Jens Spahn holds a press conference on the lifting of vaccine prioritisation on May 17th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

According to Spahn, an estimated 70-75 percent of the German population is willing to be vaccinated. 

As of Monday, 43 percent of the population had had been given at least one dose of the vaccine – meaning that two thirds of adults who want a vaccine have already been given one. Around 17.6 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

On June 7th, Germany is due to lift the vaccination prioritisation list to allow all adults to book a vaccine at their local GP’s surgery or vaccination centre, regardless of whether they belong to a risk group or not. 

Until that time, several states are still inoculating priority group 3, which includes over-60s, key workers and people with chronic health conditions – though some states, like Berlin and Bavaria, have already lifted their prioritisation lists for GPs. 

READ ALSO: State by state – What are Germany’s current vaccination groups?

Asked by German talk show host Anne Will whether Spahn was giving people an unrealistic promise that they would all be able to get a vaccine shot straight away, Spahn pointed to the drastic improvement in the speed of the vaccination drive. 

“At Easter I visited a vaccination centre in Berlin, and at that time, 12 percent of the German population had had one shot of the vaccine,” he told her. “At Pfingsten, seven weeks later, more than 40 percent of the population are partially vaccinated. That just shows the speed we’ve picked up.” 

READ ALSO: How many people have been vaccinated so far in Germany?

The Health Minister also revealed that Germany was expecting around 50 million doses of the BionTech/Pfizer vaccine alone by the end of August. By this time, children over 12 will also have a chance to receive a vaccine, said Spahn. 

“I just don’t understand this debate,” he told Will. “Of course all over-12s who want the vaccine – whose parents want that, who’ve decided that with their doctor – of course they’ll be able to get one by the end of August.” 

Having found a reliable manufacturer of the vaccine in the past few months who could regularly deliver the necessary doses, the roll-out had become “a lot easier”, he added. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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