Germany urged to ‘get more creative’ with Covid jab offers as Delta strain spreads

With the Delta variant of Covid-19 becoming the dominant strain in Germany, experts and politicians are urging states to get more creative with vaccines to reach more of the population.

Germany urged to 'get more creative' with Covid jab offers as Delta strain spreads
People at a vaccination centre in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

The number of daily vaccinations being carried out in Germany is going down. But experts say the country is in a race against time to inoculate before the more transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19 pushes up the number of cases. 

Now there’s a debate on how to vaccinate people who haven’t yet come forward for their jab. 

Sabine Dittmar, health policy spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group, told German daily Welt that “more creative vaccination offers” are needed. 

She said people in Germany should be able to get a shot in places like pedestrian zones, housing estates or events. 

The doctors’ union Marburger Bund has a similar view. “A little more creativity is needed on the part of the local authorities,” chairwoman Susanne Johna said in an interview with the Rheinische Post.

“We also have to address people directly and not wait until they come to the vaccination centre or the family doctor. The lower the threshold, the better. The crucial thing is that we now also reach all those who – for whatever reason – have been hesitant so far or need to be convinced.”

READ ALSO: Why Covid vaccine demand is dropping in Germany

‘Raffle or prize should be offered’

Saarland state premier Tobias Hans spoke out in favour of additional incentives.

“One could think of a raffle in which, for example, a bicycle, a foreign language course or another nice prize is given out among those willing to be vaccinated,” the CDU politician said in an interview with Funke Media Group newspapers. Mobile vaccination teams and special campaigns are especially necessary in socially disadvantaged areas, he added. 

In the past two weeks, the number of vaccinations per day in Germany has decreased significantly.

According to figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 699,500 vaccine doses were administered on Tuesday this week, compared to 917,000 the previous week – and more than one million doses on each of the Tuesdays of the previous three weeks.

READ ALSO: Low income workers in Germany ‘ left behind’ in the vaccination rollout

The EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides called for an acceleration of the vaccination campaign. She said the EU would reach its goal of having enough vaccines for 70 percent of adults by the end of July. But because virus variants have “increased transmissibility”, “more than 70 percent (of adults being vaccinated) is needed to be safe”.

The latest data shows 57.1 percent of the German population has received at least one dose, and 39.9 percent are fully jabbed.

How much is the Delta strain spreading in Germany?

The concern over vaccination protection is huge because the Delta variant, which first appeared in India, is spreading rapidly. 

As we’ve seen in the UK and other countries like Israel, Covid infections can increase dramatically even if a large proportion of the population is inoculated. Countries that do not have high vaccination coverage, like Australia, are also battling the Delta variant of Covid.

And new data shows Delta is the dominant strain for the first time in Germany. It accounts for 59 percent of new cases, the latest evaluation from the RKI shows. The data covers the previous week of June 21st- 27th.

However, only a share of the positive Covid-19 samples are examined for variants – so Delta could account for many more cases. Furthermore, there is the risk of under-reporting of cases: according to a study by the University Medical Centre Mainz, more than 40 percent of all infected people are unaware of their infection.

On Thursday, Germany logged 970 cases within 24 hours, and 31 deaths. The infection rate rose slightly to 5.2 cases per 100,000 people within seven days. There are fears that the downward trend we’ve seen recently is stagnating – and that the infection rate could rise further again soon. 

READ ALSO: Germany discusses fines for Covid jab no shows, as supply begins to outweigh demand

Member comments

  1. I think easier, more nearby ways to get the jab would help a lot. Many people are back at work now so during the week it’s not convenient to go.
    Dortmund is good good example. For the whole of the Dortmund area there is one vaccination center which is several Kilometers South of the City.
    If there was another center slightly North of the City, or one actually in the City center I think more people would go.
    A Temporary Tent in Hospital Grounds?
    Yes, you can make a Doctor’s appointment, but they are pretty busy dealing with patients suffering from other conditions, & I have heard from friends who just had their second jab that they still only had AstraZeneca to offer.

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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.


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”.