German words you need to know: Kreuzgeimpft

Across Germany, you might hear people describe themselves as "kreuzgeimpft" or receiving the "Merkel cocktail". Here's what it means - and why it's causing problems for travel.

German words you need to know: Kreuzgeimpft
A sign reads 'Cross vaccination - switch from AstraZeneca to mRNA vaccine' at a Munich centre. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

We are talking differently nowadays. Our knowledge of scientific words has skyrocketed as we’ve been living through this pandemic. 

But the German language beats English hands down, at least for new words. Earlier this year the the Leibniz Institute for the German Language found more than 1,200 new German words inspired by the pandemic. And the list keeps growing. 

Whether it’s Impfneid (vaccine envy), Kuschelkontakt (cuddle contact) for the person you meet for cuddles or Coronaspeck (coronavirus fat or bacon) – the weight you gained during lockdowns, Germans have excelled with pandemic-specific words. 

READ ALSO: The new German words that perfectly describe the Coronavirus pandemic

Today we’re talking about kreuzgeimpft because many people in Europe – including Chancellor Angela Merkel – are Kreuz (cross) geimpft – (vaccinated). That’s cross vaccinated, also known as mix-and-match vaccines in English. 

The Leibniz Institute describes Kreuzimpfung (cross vaccination) as a “combination of vaccines of different types or from different manufacturers (for the first and second vaccination) against the SARS-CoV2 virus”.

Geimpft is used as an adjective in German to describe people who’ve been vaccinated, or as the past participle. It comes from the verb impfen – to vaccinate.

Due to a series of events in Germany, culminating in the government advisory board recommending that everyone should get an mRNA jab (BioNTech/Pfizer or Modern) after the vector vaccine AstraZeneca, lots of people in Germany have been kreuzgeimpt.

READ ALSO: Covid mix-and-match vaccines: Why is it so common in Germany – and is it safe?

The advice from STIKO vaccine commission from the beginning of July said studies show the immune response after two doses of different types of vaccine – first vector, then mRNA vaccine – is “clearly superior” to the immune response after two doses of AstraZeneca.

Chancellor and scientist Merkel followed this path in June when she received Moderna after getting the AZ shot earlier this year. 

You may have even heard people in bars or cafes declaring to their friends that they got the “Merkel cocktail”. 

Despite the evidence showing that protection is improved with mix-and-match vaccines, it’s already causing problems for travel. 

The UK government recently changed its travel rules which mean fully vaccinated people arriving in the country have to quarantine for 10 days if they had two different vaccine doses. 

Arrivals from amber list countries no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. But a change to the rules on August 12th stated that to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ by UK rules, travellers must have had two vaccines of the same brand.

That is despite the practice of mixing and matching vaccines being common across Europe. 

As Germany is currently classed as a green list country by the UK, unvaccinated people can also avoid quarantine. 

If you are kreuzgeimpft, you are considered fully vaccinated in the EU, the European Commission says. But you must have had two vaccines approved in the EU. 


Ich habe gerade den Moderna-Impfstoff für meine zweite Impfung bekommen. Ich bin kreuzgeimpft!

I just got the Moderna vaccine for my second vaccine. I’m cross vaccinated!

Ist er kreuzgeimpft? Er könnte Probleme haben, nach England zu reisen.

Did he get mix-and-match vaccines? He might have problems travelling to England.

Member comments

  1. As to being ‘Kreuzgeimpft’ , does anyone know how the USA is treating this situation? I know that Astra-Zeneca was never approved there, so I would have to assume they would not recognise someone as being fully vaccinated with this cocktail. I am a US citizen and currently in this situation…

    1. Anyone permitted to enter the US now (e.g. citizens) must have a negative test result (48 antigen, 72 PCR). Since the USA is not imposing any quarantine or contact tracing apps (upon entry), that shouldn’t be a problem if you need to get into the US.

      If you are staying in the US, though, you will have to get a 2nd dose of an approved vaccine – for example, right now, CDC guidance for international students who have gotten a WHO approved vaccine that’s not recognized in the USA – they have to get the mRNA series again here.

      If you are in Germany, it shouldn’t matter

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Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany.