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COVID-19

Germany considers Covid vaccination campaign relaunch to convince the undecided

Medical experts and politicians across Germany are calling for more targeted action to convince those who haven't yet been vaccinated against Covid to get their jabs amid a slow uptake.

Germany considers Covid vaccination campaign relaunch to convince the undecided
A sign for vaccines on the 'vaccination train' set up in Berlin recently. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

More than 61 percent of the German population is fully vaccinated against Covid, while 65.9 percent have received at least one dose. 

But health experts say more coverage is needed to get through the autumn and winter. In order to combat the Delta variant of Covid, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) says at least 85 percent of people aged 12 to 59 and 90 percent of people aged 60 and over should be fully vaccinated.

Now there are calls for new tactics, and a fresh vaccination campaign relaunch.

Many unvaccinated people are not anti-vaxers and can be convinced, said Klaus Reinhardt, president of the German Medical Association told DPA.

“To reach these undecideds, the vaccination campaign in Germany must be completely relaunched.”

The call to “roll up your sleeves” was useful in the beginning, he said. “But now we need much more targeted communication measures and low-threshold vaccination offers.

“The vaccination rate is too low throughout Germany, but especially in the eastern federal states,” Reinhardt said, adding that this is a cause for concern in view of autumn and winter.

OPINION: How to explain vaccine hesitancy in Germany 

What are German officials doing so far?

The government wants to give the jab drive a boost with a nationwide campaign from next Monday.

Together with the states, the government is calling for easy-to-access offers to be made in as many places as possible – for example, in sports clubs, at the volunteer fire brigade, in pharmacies or multi-generation houses – with the motto: Hier wird geimpft or ‘vaccinate here’. Vaccination offers will be placed online at: www.hierwirdgeimpft.de.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) planned to meet with the head of the RKI, Lothar Wieler, to discuss the status of the vaccination campaign, and what more can be done. 

Ahead of the meeting, Spahn told RTL Direkt that he is surprised at how many people had not yet been vaccinated, even though they were not against it.

“We want to give them an easy opportunity (to get vaccinated),” he said.

The state governments in Saxony and Thuringia, the two regions with the fewest first-time jabs, are also counting on this.

“We see that education and talks are important to convince people who are still hesitant,” Saxony’s health minister Petra Köpping (SPD) told DPA. All available channels are being used, she said. 

READ ALSO: Vaccinated people are not ‘guinea pigs’, says Merkel

Thuringia’s social affairs minister Heike Werner (The Left) appealed to citizens to take advantage of offers.

“We are making a lot of effort to bring vaccinations as close as possible to the people,” Werner said. She referred to vaccination campaigns in shopping centres, at sporting events and walk-in appointments.

Others are sceptical, such as Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller (SPD), who said on Tuesday that “we have done a lot of educational work”. He referred to letter and media campaigns as well as easy-to-access offers. But despite this, everything is going slowly, he said.

“I’m now coming to a point where I think maybe we’ve exhausted what we can do as politicians,” said Müller.

As the Our World in Data chart below shows, daily vaccine doses in Germany have dropped significantly since July. 

‘Inconsiderate not to get vaccinated’

Thomas Krüger, president of the Deutschen Kinderhilfswerks – a children’s charity – called on all adults to take the protective lead out of consideration for children who cannot be vaccinated.

“It is completely inconsiderate not to get vaccinated,” he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. He said that a lot had been demanded of children in the past months by the closure of schools and daycare centres in order to protect the elderly. Now the consideration must go in the other direction, he said. 

Meanwhile, the director of virology at Essen University Hospital warned of an overload of intensive care units.

“We are slowly damaging the health care system,” Ulf Dittmer told the Rheinische Post. In his clinic, there are 23 Covid patients with severe symptoms, of which 20 are unvaccinated. He said the youngest is just 20-years-old.

Dittmer called for a discussion on compulsory vaccination. The German government has so far ruled this out. 

“We have to talk about that,” Dittmer said. He added that are no free places in North Rhine-Westphalia for treatment with a heart-lung machine due to the number of Covid patients. 

Member comments

  1. First hint of compulsory jabs which usually means it will be coming shortly. What next detention camps? Sound familiar?

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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