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COVID-19 VACCINES

Germany opens up Covid vaccines to everyone over the age of 12

Starting this Monday, anyone who wants to be vaccinated against Covid in Germany can apply to get a jab, regardless of whether they belong to a priority group - but the vaccine situation varies across the country.

Germany opens up Covid vaccines to everyone over the age of 12
A man receives a vaccine at a drive-through in Meerbusch, North Rhine-Westphalia on Saturday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

With the end of priority groups, anyone over the age of 12 can now make an appointment to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in Germany.

However, some states are continuing to only offer appointments to priority groups at vaccination centres. 

It is expected to take until the end of the summer before there are enough vaccines for the general population.

For this reason, top representatives of Germany’s medical profession and Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) urged those who want to be vaccinated to be patient. 

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

Currently, vaccine centres around Germany are setting aside most doses for those people getting their second shots, so it may take a while to get an available appointment. GPs and specialists are also giving appointments from the general population – however, they are also likely to be extremely busy. 

For the first time, more than 6,000 company in-house physicians are getting involved in the vaccinations. Within the first week, they will receive 702,000 out of a total of 6.6 million vaccine doses reserved for them over the summer.

The aim of the priority groups was to protect those at high risk of picking up the virus. Priority group 3, the last to open up around Germany in May, included anyone over the age of 60 and those with pre-existing conditions. 

In Germany, it is is possible to get a jab through four manufacturers: BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.

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

‘Not immediately available’

Gerd Landsberg, chief executive of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, told the Rheinische Post on Monday that the lifting of vaccination prioritisation would lead to disillusionment among many people. 

“Disappointment and frustration are pre-programmed in the process, as sufficient vaccines are not immediately available,” he said. 

“Frustration and disappointment will be exacerbated because no appointments for initial vaccinations will be available at vaccination centers until mid-June 2021 – possibly even until the end of June – in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example.”

In the capital Berlin, centres had some free appointments on Monday morning from the end of July onwards. 

German primary care physicians also dampened expectations for the end of vaccination prioritisation. 

“After all, the vaccine is still too scarce for the high demand and will continue to be supplied too unreliably,” Ulrich Weigeldt, chairman of the German GP association, told the Funde Mediengruppe newspaper (Monday). 

At the same time, with the removal of priority groups and the announcement of vaccines for anyone over the age of 12, demand will increase, he added. 

READ ALSO: Vaccines to be made available to people 12 and over in Germany starting in June

“But the setting will remain the same: We vaccinate as much as we can.”

In many parts of Germany, high risk groups have still yet to be vaccinated. In Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg and Bavaria, prioritisation by risk groups in vaccination centers will remain in place for now. 

In Bremen, the centres are continuing to work through the priority lists for the time being. In Saarland, people in the previous priority groups are still to be given preference for appointments. 

In the remaining states, the previous vaccination order will also end in vaccination centres.

Member comments

  1. I’m 66, living in Munich and still waiting for my first injection.
    I registered at the beginning of the year on the Impfzentrum website and also with my local doctor.
    My friends and colleagues (who are younger than me) have all received both their jabs. I spoke with my Hausarzt again last week to get an update and he told me the situation is completely unmanageable. That they have no idea of how many vaccines they will receive each week and that the numbers vary greatly. That likely I shouldn’t expect to receive an appointment from his practice until the end of July at the earliest.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Are people who’ve had the single J&J jab no longer fully vaccinated in Germany?

Germany's federal vaccine agency says that people who've had one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine should no longer be classed as being fully vaccinated.

People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt.
People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

People who’ve had J&J, sometimes known as Janssen, used to have full vaccination status after a single dose of the vaccine. 

Since January 15th, however, a single dose of J&J should no longer count as full vaccination, according to the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the country’s vaccine authority. 

In autumn last year the German government began recommending a second mRNA jab for people who’d had J&J – which many people thought was the booster vaccination. 

However, according to the PEI’s update on proof of vaccination within the Covid Protective Measures Exemption Ordinance and the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance, the second shot is needed to complete ‘basic immunisation’.

It is unclear at this stage if it means that people returning or coming to Germany from abroad with only one shot of J&J will be counted as partially vaccinated and therefore need to present tests or face other forms of barriers to entry. 

We are also looking into what this means for the various health pass rules in states, such as the 3G rules for transport. 

The Deutsches Ärzteblatt, a German-language medical magazine, said: “Special rules according to which one dose was recognised as a complete vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are no longer applicable.”

The Local has contacted the German Health Ministry for clarification on what this means for those affected. 

According to the latest government figures, 5.3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson have been given out in Germany so far in the vaccination campaign. 

The news will come as a shock to those who don’t know that they need another jab, or haven’t got round to getting their second vaccine yet. 

All other jabs – such as BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca – already require two jabs. 

People in Germany are seen as fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose. 

What about boosters?

As The Local Germany has been reporting, the German government said in December that people who’ve had J&J need a third shot three months after their second dose to be considered boosted.

A German Health Ministry spokesman told us last week that due to more vaccination breakthrough infections affecting people who’ve had the J&J vaccine, extra protection was needed.

“Therefore, after completion of the basic immunisation as recommended by STIKO, i.e. after administration of two vaccine doses (preferably 1x J&J + 1x mRNA), following the current recommendation of the STIKO, a further booster vaccination can subsequently be administered with a minimum interval of a further three months, as with the other approved Covid-19 vaccines,” the Health Ministry spokesman said. 

However, there has been much confusion on this front because some states have been accepting J&J and another shot as being boosted, while others haven’t.

READ ALSO:

It is unclear if the new regulation will mean that states will all have to only accept J&J and two shots as being boosted. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, for instance, updated its regulations on January 16th and now requires that people who’ve had J&J and one shot have another jab to be boosted. 

Having a booster shot in Germany means that you do not have to take a Covid-19 test if you’re entering a venue, such as a restaurant or cafe, under the 2G-plus rules.

The Paul Ehrlich Institute said that proof of complete vaccination protection against Covid takes into account “the current state of medical science”. 

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