'We need more advertising': Germany moves focus of vaccine drive to target the undecided
How can Germany encourage more people to get their Covid jabs? Calls are growing for high profile TV campaigns and better education to convince the undecided and sceptics.
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday confirmed that Germany was not following other countries like France by going down the route of making Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for some groups of the population such as healthcare workers or teachers.
But with the slowing down of the vaccine drive, the country needs to change its tack.
Politicians and health experts are advocating for a more visible advertising campaign for coronavirus vaccinations in order to convince hesitant or undecided people.
"The vaccination campaign should be advertised with TV spots, among other things," Dietmar Bartsch, head of the Left party parliamentary group in the Bundestag, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.
On Tuesday the President of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, also slammed the fact there is no high profile TV advert campaign in Germany for Covid vaccines. Reinhardt also said authorities needed to "approach the people", whether it's in sports clubs, cultural associations and religious groups.
SPD member of parliament Bärbel Bas said so far the vaccination campaign has been "hardly visible".
"The existing offers are obviously not sufficient to reach enough people willing to be vaccinated," the deputy parliamentary group leader of the Social Democrats told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.
"This is where the Federal Minister of Health (Jens Spahn) is called upon. We need to significantly expand the information campaign. We need more advertising and education," the health expert demanded.
'Vaccination fatigue must not prevail'
Calls to push forward the vaccine drive are also coming from groups desperate to avoid a future lockdown. Germany spent around eight months in a state of shutdown during the second and third waves at the end of 2020 and earlier this year.
"We must try on all channels to address people who have so far been reluctant to get vaccinated," said the President of the German Association of Cities, Burkhard Jung, to the newspapers in the Funke Mediengruppe. He said it needs to become easier to get a jab outside of vaccination centres and doctors' offices.
Vaccination fatigue must not be allowed to prevail and the number of shots must increase again, he pleaded.
"It's important that we speed up the vaccination campaign, politicians must do more advertising for it," said Ingrid Hartges, managing director of the Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA).
It must be made more clear that vaccinated people "will soon be able to fully exercise their rights of freedom again", she told the Augsburger Allgemeine.
Hartges said it was important to provide incentives for vaccinations. "To be clear, our industry will not accept another closure," Hartges stressed.
How many people are vaccinated in Germany?
Up to now, about 43 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 48.8 million people (58.7 per cent) have received at least one dose.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel and Health Minister Spahn made an appeal urging people to get vaccinated.
"A vaccination not only protects you, but also always someone you are close to, someone you care about, someone you love," Merkel said.