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COVID-19 VACCINES

Have more people in Germany been vaccinated than official data shows?

There is increasing evidence that more people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 than officially reported as the results of a new poll of the under-60s come out.

Have more people in Germany been vaccinated than official data shows?

A new poll on Covid-19 vaccinations in Germany showed clear differences to the official figures that are reported by the German public health body, the Robert Koch Institute, German news magazine Spiegel said on Saturday.

According to an online, anonymous survey carried out by Infratest dimap in cooperation with the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), around 75 percent of 18 to 59-year-olds said they had received a first jab by July 13th.

This is 16 percentage points higher than the official RKI statistics for that period, which gave the figure for this age group as 59 percent.

This backs up a recently published report by the health body themselves, which found a discrepancy between the figures from those it polled as part of its ongoing Covid monitoring (Covimo) and the official government statistics, at least for the number of people who had received their first vaccination dose.

READ ALSO: German public health authority to investigate ‘underreported’ Covid jabs

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: Is Germany underestimating its Covid vaccination numbers?

One of the reasons for this given by RKI was that when the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was administered, doctors reported it as a second vaccination dose and were unable to note the vaccine type or the age group of the recipient.

According to RKI’s Covimo poll, as many as 79 percent of the 18 to 59-year-olds surveyed said they had had their first jab. That was 20 percentage points more than the official digital dashboard indicated at that time.

The differences indicated that the actual vaccination rate is significantly higher than statistics show, DIW researcher Mathias Huebener told Spiegel. He was working on the basis of a first-vaccination rate of at least 70 percent for 18 to 59-year-olds up to July 13th.

If correct, that would mean around five million more people had received a first vaccine dose than the official RKI data indicates.

And, according to the ongoing Infratest survey, on 28th July, 80 percent of all adult respondents said they had received a first jab. This corresponds to a rate of 67 percent of the total population.

However, RKI statistics from this point in time showed that only 61 percent of the population had received their first dose, another difference of around five million vaccinations, according to Spiegel. 

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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.

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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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