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COVID-19 VACCINES

Is Germany planning mandatory vaccinations for some employees?

Germany's incoming government is considering a plan to introduce mandatory Covid vaccinations for people who work in certain professions.

People wait for a vaccination in Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia.
People wait for a vaccination in Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Friso Gentsch

Green Party parliamentary leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt told a press conference on Monday that the parties in talks to form a new coalition government – the Social Democrats, Greens and FDP – are discussing the possibility of compulsory vaccinations for some occupational groups, such as carers. 

“We will need compulsory vaccination for institutions, for nursing homes, for daycare centres (Kitas), etc. We will get this off the ground,” said Göring-Eckardt in Berlin.

Göring-Eckardt later tweeted to say that the proposal was not part of the current reform of the Infection Protection Act, which is set to be passed this week.

READ ALSO: Germany’s planned Covid restrictions to fight fourth wave

The proposal for mandatory vaccination is still under discussion and would be part of a separate legislative procedure, said Göring-Eckhardt.

Göring-Eckhardt told Germany’s Tagesschau recently that it made “sense to talk about compulsory vaccination for certain areas, for example for employees in old people’s and nursing homes”.

The head of the German Hospital Association (DKG), Gerald Gaß, also spoke out in favour of compulsory vaccination for certain occupational groups.

“The issue of vaccination is not a private matter,” Gaß said.

It is also an “act of solidarity.” “The fact that employers are not allowed to ask employees whether they have been vaccinated is incomprehensible,” he said.

The German government has previously ruled out a vaccine obligation for some parts of the population in contrast to some other countries, like neighbouring France, which introduced compulsory vaccines for healthcare professionals.

“We do not intend to go down this road,” outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said in July, saying that this could affect people’s trust in the government.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Are people who’ve had the single J&J jab no longer fully vaccinated in Germany?

Germany's federal vaccine agency says that people who've had one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine should no longer be classed as being fully vaccinated.

People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt.
People queue for a vaccination in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

People who’ve had J&J, sometimes known as Janssen, used to have full vaccination status after a single dose of the vaccine. 

Since January 15th, however, a single dose of J&J should no longer count as full vaccination, according to the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the country’s vaccine authority. 

In autumn last year the German government began recommending a second mRNA jab for people who’d had J&J – which many people thought was the booster vaccination. 

However, according to the PEI’s update on proof of vaccination within the Covid Protective Measures Exemption Ordinance and the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance, the second shot is needed to complete ‘basic immunisation’.

It is unclear at this stage if it means that people returning or coming to Germany from abroad with only one shot of J&J will be counted as partially vaccinated and therefore need to present tests or face other forms of barriers to entry. 

We are also looking into what this means for the various health pass rules in states, such as the 3G rules for transport. 

The Deutsches Ärzteblatt, a German-language medical magazine, said: “Special rules according to which one dose was recognised as a complete vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are no longer applicable.”

The Local has contacted the German Health Ministry for clarification on what this means for those affected. 

According to the latest government figures, 5.3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson have been given out in Germany so far in the vaccination campaign. 

The news will come as a shock to those who don’t know that they need another jab, or haven’t got round to getting their second vaccine yet. 

All other jabs – such as BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca – already require two jabs. 

People in Germany are seen as fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose. 

What about boosters?

As The Local Germany has been reporting, the German government said in December that people who’ve had J&J need a third shot three months after their second dose to be considered boosted.

A German Health Ministry spokesman told us last week that due to more vaccination breakthrough infections affecting people who’ve had the J&J vaccine, extra protection was needed.

“Therefore, after completion of the basic immunisation as recommended by STIKO, i.e. after administration of two vaccine doses (preferably 1x J&J + 1x mRNA), following the current recommendation of the STIKO, a further booster vaccination can subsequently be administered with a minimum interval of a further three months, as with the other approved Covid-19 vaccines,” the Health Ministry spokesman said. 

However, there has been much confusion on this front because some states have been accepting J&J and another shot as being boosted, while others haven’t.

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It is unclear if the new regulation will mean that states will all have to only accept J&J and two shots as being boosted. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, for instance, updated its regulations on January 16th and now requires that people who’ve had J&J and one shot have another jab to be boosted. 

Having a booster shot in Germany means that you do not have to take a Covid-19 test if you’re entering a venue, such as a restaurant or cafe, under the 2G-plus rules.

The Paul Ehrlich Institute said that proof of complete vaccination protection against Covid takes into account “the current state of medical science”. 

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