Covid booster jabs possible for all, says German Health Minister

Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine
A doctors' assistant prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Booster jabs are recommended for people who were vaccinated with J&J. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm
Germany Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has reiterated calls for vulnerable groups to get a Covid booster vaccination - and it's now possible for everyone to get a top-up jab as long as they discuss it with their doctor first.

“We have more than enough vaccine,” Spahn told RBB Inforadio on Friday when pressed to explain why he himself had got a top-up jab on Thursday. 

At present, a booster vaccination is primarily recommended for select groups of people who are considered to be more at risk from the Delta variant over winter, he explained.

This includes people over 70, people who are in need of care, people with pre-existing conditions, and those who work in the healthcare system or with vulnerable people.

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It also includes people who have exclusively been vaccinated with the two so-called ‘viral vector’ vaccines: AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson. 

“For everyone else, it’s nonetheless possible,” he said. “Everyone who gets a top-up jab, who discusses that with their doctor, they’re also doing something to ensure that we come through winter safely.” 

People who get additional vaccine protection also have a smaller chance of infecting others with Covid, he added. 

Asked if healthy people who got a third jab after two shorts of an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna were taking doses from more vulnerable people, Spahn said no.

“We have more than enough vaccine – in fact, we have so much that we’re also able to share it with the rest of the world,” he explained. 

For the majority of people, a gap of at least six months between the last dose of vaccine and a booster jab is recommended.

People who have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson, however, can get an additional jab four weeks after their last one. The same applies to people with weak immune systems. 

Jens Spahn gets booster jab
Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) gets a booster jab on October 28th, 2021. Spahn has said top-up jabs are now available for everyone. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Bundesgesundheitsministerium | Jan Pauls

People who don’t fall into a risk group will likely have to go through their GPs in order to book an additional shot if they want one, though it may also be possible at larger vaccination centres.

At the Health Ministers’ Conference in Lindau next week, Spahn said he would put pressure on the states to write to over-60s in particular and invite them to get an additional shot if they hadn’t already.

READ ALSO: Who can get a Covid-19 booster shot in Germany?

‘More careful, more mindful’

Infection rates have been rising rapidly over the past week or so in Germany.

On Friday, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people went up almost 10 points to 139. 

Meanwhile, doctors are sounding the alarm about intensive care units filling to capacity.

Asked whether he shared doctors’ concerns about hospitalisations, Spahn said experts had been predicting these increases for a long time. 

“What is important now is that we do not let the number of people in intensive care units in the hospitals increase too much,” he said. “That we are more careful, more mindful of each other again.”

This includes getting a booster jab, he said, as well as introducing special testing concepts in places where there are lots of vulnerable people, such as in nursing homes.

Spahn plans to call on states to make testing of staff in care facilities mandatory again, even for those who are fully vaccinated.

The Health Minister is still in office in a caretaker capacity after the federal elections in September, but it is expected that a new government will be in place by mid-December. 


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