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VACCINES

Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid

More than 40 million people in Germany have received at least one vaccination against the coronavirus so far, while a quarter of the population are fully inoculated, new government data shows.

Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid
A vaccine is prepared in Munich. credit: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Cracking the 40 million mark means that 48.1 percent of the total population has now received at least a first jab against the disease, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) that was released on Saturday.

Some 21.35 million people have received both jabs while 60.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Germany so far.

This week, for the first time, the million mark in daily vaccinations was cracked on three days, Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) wrote on Twitter. According to the RKI, about two-thirds of all vaccinations have been administered in vaccination centres, and one-third in doctors’ offices.

Among the states, Bremen continues to record the highest proportion of people with first-time vaccinations at 52.9 percent, with Saxony bringing up the rear at 43.0 percent.

Meanwhile Saarland has the highest proportion of residents with full coverage, at 30.4 percent, and has also administered the most vaccine doses per resident to date.

While the first five months of the vaccine programme were based on a priority list, since Monday everyone resident in the country can register themselves for a vaccine appointment.

Case rate continues to fall

Health authorities reported 1,911 new infections to the RKI on Saturday morning. A week ago that figure stood at 2,294 new infections. The seven-day incidence dropped lightly to 18.3 from 18.6 cases per 100,000 people on Friday.

Nationwide, 129 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours on Saturday.

Opposition plans inquiry into pandemic failures

Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy leader of the Free Democrats, has said his party will push for a Bundestag inquiry into the pandemic response after September’s national election.

“There needs to be a parliamentary review of this after the election,” Kubicki said on Saturday at a party convention. “That was the announcement of a committee of inquiry,” he confirmed when asked for clarification by a journalist.

Kubicki criticized, among other things, the purchase of “unfit masks” by Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). He said that the committee would also look into controversial aspects of the pandemic response including the government’s testing strategy and the disputes over whether intensive care units reached breaking point.

SEE ALSO: 7 things the Covid-19 crisis has taught us about Germany

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CHILDREN

Vaccines to be made available to children 12 and over in Germany starting in June

Starting on June 7th, children aged 12 and older will be able to receive a vaccine in Germany, federal and state leaders decided at a vaccination summit on Thursday.

Vaccines to be made available to children 12 and over in Germany starting in June
Archive photo shows a boy in Hanover receiving a measles vaccine in 2019. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

The move was announced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in Berlin on Thursday following consultations with the country’s 16 state governments. 

It coincides with the expected approval of the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15 from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Friday.

Children in this age group would be able to receive a jab both from general practitioners and vaccination centres. 

Monday June 7th was already set as the date to end vaccine prioritisation for all adults in Germany. 

Each of Germany’s 16 states would then be tasked with making offers to young people to get vaccinated, whether at official centres, GP practices, or through setting up vaccination programmes, for example at schools. 

Vaccine offers by the end of August

A debate over when children and young people can receive their Covid vaccination has been raging over the last few days across Germany.

A few figures in the medical community have said there is not yet enough evidence to support vaccines and their potential side effects in younger people.

Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) on Thursday said that getting the vaccine would be an individual decision for parents, doctors and children themselves.

READ ALSO: Covid jabs for children in Germany will be ‘individual decision’, says Health Minister

This jab has so far been approved for people aged 16 and over in the EU. US regulators earlier this month authorised the vaccine for children in this age group, and it is now widely available.

Pending the EMA decision, the German government wants to make sure everyone aged 12-15 is offered a jab by the end of August.

This is to ensure that schools can get back to some kind of normality after the summer vacations, which end in August or September depending on the state.

However, Thursday’s federal-state resolution stated that safe school operations should be ensured, regardless of how many pupils take advantage of a vaccine offer.

“The main message to parents is: there will be no compulsory vaccinations,” Merkel told reporters.

Schools would not require pupils to be vaccinated, she said. “And it would be totally wrong to think you can only go on holiday with a vaccinated child.”

Inoculating children is seen as a key step towards achieving herd immunity in the fight against the pandemic.

After a much-criticised slow start, the coronavirus inoculation campaign in Europe’s top economy has kicked into high gear in recent weeks.

More than 40 percent of adults have now had their first jab, and 15 percent are fully vaccinated.

The accelerated pace, along with rapid testing and widespread shutdowns, has helped break a third coronavirus wave and allowed Germany to relax restrictions.

“This is a great success,” Merkel said. But she called on Germans not to ditch precautions such as social distancing, mask wearing, and airing out rooms.

“The pandemic is not over.”

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