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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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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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