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COVID-19 VACCINES

Berlin offers Covid jabs in vaccination centres without appointments

Berlin is ramping up its Covid vaccine rollout - and will offer spontaneous jabs to residents in centres with no prior appointment.

Berlin offers Covid jabs in vaccination centres without appointments
Berliners queue for a Covid jab at Hermannplatz on July 16th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

Up to this point, people in the capital have had to book an appointment at the large vaccination centres dotted around the city. 

But from Friday, residents can drop by three centres – without having to register in advance.

From July 23rd, vaccinations will be possible everyday from 2 to 5pm without an appointment – at the centres in Tegel, the exhibition grounds (the Messe) in Charlottenburg and at the Erika Heß ice stadium in Wedding.

The offer is in place initially for the next four weeks, said the Berlin Senate on Tuesday. 

“We are prepared to receive many spontaneous vaccination guests from Friday in the afternoons, and would be pleased if lots of Berliners take advantage of this vaccination offer,” the management of the Corona-Impfzentrum Messe Berlin in the west of the city told regional broadcaster RBB24.

Those who want to get a jab in the centres must be registered in Berlin, and bring their ID card, said the Senate. 

It comes as three of Berlin’s six vaccination centres are set to close. In Tempelhof, vaccinations will be given for the last time on Tuesday before it closes its doors. Meanwhile, the Arena and the Velodrom will shut by the end of August.

Germany recently announced it was winding down vaccination centres and moving to community driven vaccines. That’s because there is a lower demand for jabs in Germany currently and centres are expensive to run. 

READ ALSO: Why Covid vaccine demand is dropping in Germany

Berlin says vaccinations protect against severe Covid

Berlin’s Urban Development Senator Sebastian Scheel, of The Left party, stressed that vaccinations protect against severe cases of Covid-19 and, in most cases, Covid infections.

Currently, 433 so-called ‘vaccination breakthroughs’ have been registered in Berlin, he said – that is, people who get Covid despite being fully vaccinated.

Scheel said that figure was low in relation to the number of people who are now fully vaccinated. “This shows that vaccinations really help against infection and against the Delta variant,” he said. 

About 2.17 million people (59.1 percent) in Berlin have received at least one jab, and 1.7 million people (46.3 percent) have been fully vaccinated.

The Left politician described the willingness of people to be vaccinated in Berlin as “high”, but urged people to continue to go and get their jabs.

READ ALSO: ‘We need more ads’: Germany moves focus of vaccine drive to target undecided 

Pop-up vaccine spots in Berlin

The city has also been hosting pop-up Covid vaccinations in parts of the city. For instance, people can get a jab daily at the Ikea parking lot in Lichtenberg and on Friday at the Neukölln City Hall (Rathaus Neukölln).

At the drive-in at Ikea on Landsberger Allee, vaccinations are given with Moderna, according to the district office. Even without a car, those willing to be vaccinated can drop by daily – including weekends – from 11am to 9pm, according to the Lichtenberg district. ID and vaccination card must be brought and the offer is only for people registered in Berlin.

At the vaccination drive in Neukölln later this week, however, people can get their shot regardless of their place of residence. However, an “official identification document” is necessary, said the local council. 

The vaccine pop-up takes place on Friday at Rathaus Neukölln between 10am and 5pm.

In view of the large crowds last Friday at a vaccine drive on Hermannplatz, the district moved the event to a different location, and also increased the capacity: now, instead of four doctors, up to eight will be in attendance. 

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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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