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 word of the day: Belastung

Sometimes things can be too hard to carry - but keep this German word to hand and you may be able to lighten the load.

German word of the day: Belastung

Why do I need to know Belastung?

Because this versatile little word can be found everywhere, from articles about contaminated waterways to discussions about teen mental health.

What does it mean?

Die Belastung (be.last.ung) can mean numerous things depending on its context, but generally it’s used to refer to a “load” or a “burden” of some kind. This can, of course, mean a physical load such as goods on a cargo train, but more often it’s a metaphorical one.

That’s why you may hear politicians in Germany talking about a “finanzielle Belastung” (financial burden) on citizens through inflation, or have a friend write to you about how their hectic new job is “eine Belastung” (a strain). 

Occasionally, Belastung can be a liability or debt, and other times it could be a heavy workload. 

If you hear it in an ecological context, it’s sadly most likely to be referring to pollution or exposure to a toxic substance.

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Beharren

Where does it come from?

The word Belastung appears to come from the noun ‘Last’ in Old High German, which was used to describe something that weighed a person down – in other words, a load. In Middle High German, ‘Last’ could also be used as a measurement to mean an abundance or large quantity of something – again, similar to the English ‘load’.

‘Last’ has the same meaning to this day and can be found tucked away in several German words with similar connotations. For example, as well as burdening someone with a Belastung, you can also free them of their heavy load with an Entlastung. Incidentally, the latter is the word usually used to describe financial relief measures taken by the government. 

Use it like this: 

Ich will an der Universität studieren, aber momentan sind die finanzielle Belastungen zu groß.

I want to study at university, but at the moment the financial burdens are too great.

Mein rücksichtsloser Freund ist eine Belastung.

My reckless friend is liability.