German cabinet approves decision to open up vaccines to all starting on Monday

Starting on Monday, coronavirus vaccinations will be available to everyone in Germany regardless of their priority group, according to an official government decision.

German cabinet approves decision to open up vaccines to all starting on Monday
A woman in Berlin receives a vaccine with Moderna on May 17th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Germany’s federal cabinet officially approved the decision on Wednesday, which Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is set to announce. 

Currently priority groups 1-3, which include those over 60 and with pre-existing conditions, are eligible for one of four vaccines in Germany: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. 

GPs can give the latter two vaccines to all adults who want one, although appointments can be hard to come by. 

But starting on June 7th through the new ‘Vaccination Ordinance’, all people over the age of 12 will be able to book an appointment for all four vaccines, either through a vaccine centre or with a doctor, be it a GP or specialist.

Vaccine drives are also planned around the country, including possibly at schools for pupils.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How can people in Germany get a Covid vaccine appointment?

More vaccines at work

The move is also set to make vaccinations of employees through their companies possible on a broad scale.

Germany’s Ministry of Health said last week that more than 6,000 company doctors had now placed an order for Covid-19 vaccinations.

They were to receive 702,000 doses of the vaccine from BioNtech/Pfizer in the second week of June – each a promised minimum of 102 doses.

According to Spahn on Wednesday, there have now been more than 50 million Covid-19 vaccinations carried out in Germany so far: 36.5 million (44 percent) have received at least a first jab, and 15.6 million (or 19 percent) have full protection. 

“We expect up to 25 million more vaccinations in June,” he wrote on Twitter. Previously Spahn predicted that 90 percent of those who want a vaccine would be able to have one by mid-July

Spahn went on to say that, in the future, the government also wants to ensure that a capacity of 600 million to 700 million vaccine doses are set aside for the event of future Covid outbreaks – both for use in Germany or other parts of the world. 

The government will place tenders with terms of five years. An annual reservation fee will be paid by the manufacturers to ensure production of the vaccine in the event that it’s needed.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now