German government rejects calls for fines on Covid vaccine no-shows

German government rejects calls for fines on Covid vaccine no-shows
People queuing for a Covid vaccine in Bramsche, Lower Saxony, on July 2nd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Nord-West-Media TV
Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed the importance of vaccination in view of the more transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19. It came as the government rejected calls to fine people who don't show up for Covid vaccine slots.

The vaccination rate needs to reach 80 percent, Merkel said on Monday during the last regular consultations of the CDU leadership in Berlin before the summer break, reported DPA who spoke to participants at the meeting. 

Merkel is reported to have said that unvaccinated children will likely be vulnerable in autumn. At the same time she pointed out that the hospitalisation rate with the Delta variant was not as high in other countries due to lots of vaccination coverage. 

Around 56.5 percent of people in Germany have had at least one jab, while around 39 percent are considered fully vaccinated.

It came after the German government announced it has no plans to introduce sanctions for people who make an appointment for a jab and don’t show up – but urged people to cancel if they can’t go.

Chancellor Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert made an “urgent appeal” on Monday to people who could not make their Covid vaccine appointment – “Cancel!” he said.

Cancelling a Covid jab appointment in advance makes it possible for others to get the slot, and facilitates planning for staff in vaccination centres and doctor practices, he added.

However, Seibert said the government had no plans to introduce fines for no-shows to vaccine appointments that are not cancelled in advance.

A heated debate on penalties for skipped vaccination appointments surfaced at the weekend as it emerged that supply of vaccines in Germany outweighed demand for the first time. 

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Head of the Berlin Red Cross (DRK), Mario Czaja, initiated the debate and proposed fines of €25 to €30. He said that five to ten percent of appointments are now not being kept at Berlin’s vaccination centres.

“It would be right if there were a penalty for those who don’t even cancel their appointment,” SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach told the Bild am Sonntag.

READ ALSO: Germany discusses fines for Covid jab no shows 

‘Take advance of vaccine appointments’

Seibert also called on the population to get vaccinated. 

“Take advantage of these offers – you are not only protecting yourself from a potentially serious disease (…), you are also protecting us all,” Seibert said.

READ ALSO: Why Covid vaccine demand is dropping in Germany

When assessing the Covid situation in Germany, Seibert said one of the decisive factors on loosening restrictions is the number of people who are vaccinated.

He also said Germany was keeping an eye on how the more transmissible Delta variant was spreading, and how that influences the number of Covid-19 cases as well as hospitalisations.

Last week state health ministers and federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said there are plans to cut back the operation of vaccination centres in autumn.

After September 30th some vaccination centres may remain open but there will be a larger focus on mobile vaccine teams, the health ministers decided last week during crunch talks. 

Federal states will be free to decide themselves on the future infrastructure of vaccination services. If needed, however, vaccination centres should be able to be put into action quickly. 

Vocabulary 

People who don’t show up for vaccine appointments – (die) Impftermin-Schwänzer

Penalties/fines – (die) Strafzahlungen or (die) Strafen

Cancel – Sagen Sie ab! (the verb is absagen)

To spread – sich ausbreiten

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