SHARE
COPY LINK

COVID-19

Germany agrees to offer Covid booster shots from September

Germany will start offering Covid booster shots from September and make it easier for 12-to-17 year olds to get a jab, the health ministry said Monday, amid concerns about the spread of the Delta variant.

Germany agrees to offer Covid booster shots from September
A teenager waiting for a vaccine in Dessau-Roßlau, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

Health Minister Jens Spahn and his 16 regional peers agreed after talks that the elderly and at-risk should receive a booster shot, citing concerns over “a reduced or rapidly declining immune response” among some groups.

Mobile vaccination teams should be sent into care and nursing homes, the text says, to offer Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna booster shots to residents, regardless of which vaccine they had originally.

Doctors will also be able to administer booster jabs to those who qualify, including people with weakened immune systems.

A booster shot will also be offered to anyone who received the two-dose AstraZeneca or single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the document released by Spahn’s ministry said, “in the interests of preventative healthcare”.

Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are viral vector vaccines, whereas the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use novel mRNA technology that has shown high efficacy in studies.

More access to vaccines for over 12s

The ministers also agreed to make the coronavirus vaccine more widely available to over-12s, going a step further than the country’s STIKO vaccines regulator.

READ ALSO:

The regulator currently only recommends the coronavirus vaccine for 12-17 year olds if they have pre-existing conditions or live with people at high
risk from Covid.

Although adolescents who do not fall into those categories are still allowed to get vaccinated, in consultation with their parents and doctors, the cautious STIKO guidance has slowed take-up.

Germany’s health ministers agreed on Monday to encourage vaccination among teens by opening all the country’s vaccination centres to 12-17 year olds, alongside the possibility to get vaccinated at regular clinics.

The ministers stressed that the jab was voluntary but said getting children and teenagers vaccinated could “contribute significantly to a safe return to classrooms after the summer holidays”.

Although Germany is currently enjoying relatively low infection rates compared with neighbouring countries, case numbers have been creeping up in recent weeks mainly because of the more contagious Delta variant.

There are also concerns about a slowdown in the country’s vaccination rate, with just over 52 percent of the population fully inoculated.

Within the European Union, the European Medicines Agency has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots for all over-12s.

STIKO head Thomas Mertens told public radio MDR that the body was still waiting for data from longer-term studies before deciding on issuing a more
general vaccine recommendation for over-12s.

The problem, he added, “is not so much the children’s vaccinations”.

What is needed to help suppress a fourth Covid wave in Germany “is a high vaccination rate among 18-to-59 year olds”.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

COVID-19 VACCINES

What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

With Covid cases rising, many people in Germany are wondering if they should get a fourth Covid jab - or second booster. Here's what you should keep in mind.

What to know about getting a fourth Covid vaccination in Germany

German states have started giving out new Covid vaccines that are specially adapted to the Omicron variant.

Though the Omicron variant is believed to cause milder courses of illness than earlier variants like Delta, it’s known for being highly transmissible and is often able to evade the body’s immune responses. 

In September, three Omicron vaccines received EU-wide approval: two vaccines from BioNTech and Moderna adapted to the BA.1 sub-variant, and another Omicron booster from BioNTech to protect against the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants. 

Who should get the fourth Covid shot (second booster)?

People who belong to ‘at risk’ groups should think about getting a booster shot this autumn.

The official recommendation from the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) stipulates that people over the age of 60 should get a further booster vaccination.

In addition, people over the age of 12 who have an underlying condition that can lead to severe illness with Covid-19 should also get a shot.

Experts also recommend that residents and staff in nursing homes or long-term care facilities receive a fourth jab.

READ ALSO: When – and how – people can get the new Omicron vaccine in Germany

In STIKO’s latest guidance dated September 20th, experts also say that it may be appropriate for people at particular risk, for instance the very elderly or people with immunodeficiency, to get another shot (a fifth jab) after the fourth vaccination, although that would depend on several factors and a medical consultation. 

A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany.

A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Wüstneck

Should people under the age of 60 get a fourth jab?

If people don’t fall into a risk group and are under the age of 60, they can still receive a fourth vaccination, although it’s not officially recommended. You should have a consultation with your GP – or a doctor carrying out Covid vaccinations – if you are interested in getting the fourth jab. 

How do vaccination centres handle people under 60 who want to get another Covid shot?

There have been occasional reports in Germany that younger people who don’t belong to a risk group have been turned away from vaccination centres because they don’t qualify for a booster jab. 

However, The Local has anecdotally heard that people have been able to get a jab from a vaccination station or centre, regardless of their health condition or age.

A spokesperson at the health department of the city Munich told broadcaster BR24 that carrying out a fourth vaccination is decided on a case-by-case basis and is a decision taken by the medical expert giving out the jab “in each case”.

Where is the fourth vaccination available? 

There are still lots of walk-in vaccination centres across the country, while many doctors and pharmacies also carry out jabs. You should search online or contact your GP for more information. 

Many towns and cities are reporting a significant increase in demand since the new vaccines adapted for Omicron variants became available.

READ ALSO: Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

How many people in Germany have been vaccinated?

According to official figures, 76.3 percent of the German population has received two Covid jabs. Just over 62 percent have also received a booster jab, and 9.9 percent have been given a second booster vaccination.

Around 18.4 million people (22.2 percent) in Germany are not vaccinated. For four million of these people aged 0 to four years (4.8 percent), no licensed vaccine is available.

Does getting the flu vaccination help against Covid?

Coronaviruses and the flu are different viruses, so the flu jab cannot protect against Covid-19. However, those who have a weaker immune system can strengthen their body in fighting a virus by getting a flu shot, according to experts. The immune system can then better use resources it saves against a possible Covid infection.

The fourth Covid jab and the flu shot can be administered to patients at the same time, according to the STIKO – although they don’t have to be.

If this is the case, the injections are given in different arms. However, it could be the case that patients have a stronger reaction if both jabs are carried out at the same time, so keep that in mind. 

READ ALSO: Can anyone in Germany get a second Covid booster jab?

SHOW COMMENTS