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VACCINATION

German pharmacies begin offering digital vaccination certificates

Starting on Monday, anyone in Germany who is fully vaccinated against coronavirus will be able to pick up a digital certificate from a pharmacy.

German pharmacies begin offering digital vaccination certificates
A sample of the digital certificate which pharmacies, vaccination centres and GP practices will offer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Settnik

The Associations of German Pharmacies (Apothekerverbände) said that, due to organisational reasons, not every pharmacy will initially be able to provide a certificate in the form of a QR code which can be uploaded into an app. 

They advised people to check the website mein-apothekenmanager.de to see which chemists issue a certificate.

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The digital certificate is a voluntary addition to the yellow paper vaccination booklet, which is still valid. 

The new digital initiative is part of an EU-wide project aimed at making it easier for residents in the bloc countries to prove vaccinations, negative Covid-19 tests and recovery from an infection. 

The new certificate can be used as proof when virus restrictions are relaxed and will facilitate travel in Europe during the summer holiday season. 

How will the certificate be used?

The proof will be stored in a QR code comprised of black and white squares, which in the future will be handed out following the second vaccination at the vaccination centre or at the doctor’s office where people get their jab. The code can then be scanned and presented using certain cell phone apps.

In addition to the CovPass app and the German government’s Corona-Warning-App, proof will also be possible via the Luca app from Wednesday, it emerged. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Where can I get Germany’s ‘yellow vaccination booklet’ and do I need it?

After a test phase, vaccination centres, doctors’ offices and pharmacies will now gradually join in, according to the Health Ministry.

The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians said that there will not be an immediate nationwide launch in GP practices for technical reasons.

State by state differences

Around 20 million people have been fully vaccinated against Covid in Germany. Yet how they can receive the digital certificate varies depending on where they live. 

READ ALSO: Major milestone: More than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid

In Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt, for example, people who have already received their jabs in vaccination centres are to be given access to the certificate via specially set-up websites.

In Baden-Württemberg, vaccination certificates are to be sent by post retrospectively over the course of the next few weeks, according to the state’s Ministry of Health. 

In Thuringia, on the other hand, the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians clarified on Friday that a subsequent issuance of the digital vaccination certificate for those who have already been vaccinated is not possible in the vaccination centres because the effort would not be manageable. 

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the Associations of Statutory Health Insurance Physician also stated that electronic vaccination certificates could not yet be issued in doctors’ offices and vaccination centres for the time being.

Member comments

  1. Will they take our US CDC cards? We were vaccinated on US military bases in Germany and therefore, got the US cards.

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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