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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German phrase of the day: Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen

Anyone struggling with learning German (or any big skill) could use this popular piece of reassurance.

German phrase of the day: Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen

Why do I need to know this?

If you’re getting down on yourself for not doing something you are still learning just right – be it playing the piano or speaking German – you can gently comfort yourself with this phrase. Or you can confidently cite it to reassure your perfectionist friend or family member that they are indeed making great strides towards their goal.

What does it mean?

Literally translated as “There is still no master which has fallen from the sky,” the expression gets the idea across that no one is born – or comes pummeling down from the heavens – as an expert at something.

Rather they become a Meister (or at least halfway decent) through continuous hard work and discipline. 

READ ALSO: 12 colourful German expressions that will add swagger to your language skills

The saying is similar to the also widely used “Übung macht den Meister” (Practice makes the master) or the English version: Practice makes perfect. 

Not surprisingly, Germans – who pride themselves on industriously reaching their goals – have several other equivalent sayings. They include “Ohne Fleiß kein Preis” (There’s no prize without hard work) and “Von nichts kommt nichts” (Nothing comes out of nothing).

Where does it come from?

The popular phrase can be traced back to the Latin “Nemo magister natus”, or no one is born a master. Another version is “Nemo nascitur artifex” or no one is born an artist. This explains why so many languages have similar expressions.

What are some examples of how it’s used?

Sei nicht so streng mit dir selbst. Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. No one is born perfect. 

Mein Trainer sagte, es sei noch kein perfekter Schwimmer vom Himmel gefallen.

My coach said that no one is born a perfect swimmer.

READ ALSO: Six German expressions to entice your Wanderlust