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ANGELA MERKEL

Merkel gets Moderna as second jab after AstraZeneca first dose

German Chancellor Angela Merkel received a Moderna coronavirus vaccine as her second jab, after getting AstraZeneca as the first, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Merkel gets Moderna as second jab after AstraZeneca first dose
Angela Merkel at the G7 summit with world leaders in England earlier in June. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/getty pool/AP | Leon Neal

The 66-year-old took her first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine on April 16th, more than two weeks after German authorities recommended use of the jab only for people aged 60 and over.

A spokesperson said on Tuesday that she received her Moderna jab a few days ago. As was the case in April, Merkel was not pictured rolling her sleeves up to get the injection like some other world leaders. 

READ ALSO: ‘I’m delighted’: Merkel receives AstraZeneca jab

There is lots of debate on receiving a different vaccine for the second dose. In Germany, a recent study suggested mixing and matching certain vaccines could potentially give the immune system an extra boost – but research is still ongoing. 

Merkel is stepping down this year after 16 years in power.

In 2019, she sparked concerns for her health with a series of shaking spells in public but has appeared to be in good condition since then.

After a sluggish start, Germany’s vaccination rollout has sharply accelerated in recent weeks.

As of Tuesday, one in two, or 51.2 percent of the population have received their first dose. And 31.6 percent are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. 

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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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