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COVID-19 VACCINES

German states call for mandatory Covid vaccinations for health workers

German states are calling for mandatory vaccinations for medical workers, care workers, and other professions that work closely with "vulnerable people".

A doctor receives a Covid jab from a medical student in Tübingen. Covid vaccination could soon become compulsory for medical and care staff in Germany.
A doctor receives a Covid jab from a medical student in Tübingen. Covid vaccination could soon become compulsory for medical and care staff in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The heads of the 16 federal states say mandatory vaccinations should be carried out “on a facility-by-facility basis” for staff in hospitals, old people’s and nursing homes, and in mobile care services if there is contact with people who are particularly at risk.

State leaders agreed on this point on Thursday during consultations with the federal government on a number of potential Covid protection measures. 

The states consider such a duty “necessary” and have asked the federal government to implement it “as soon as possible”.

“We need to provide additional protection for vulnerable groups in particular,” the resolution says. 

Earlier this week Green Party parliamentary leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt said that the parties in talks to form a new coalition government – the Social Democrats, Greens and FDP – were discussing the possibility of compulsory vaccinations for some occupational groups, such as carers. 

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.

In addition to the heads of the state governments and Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), the SPD candidate for Chancellor and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) took part in the video conference on Thursday, as well as other executive federal ministers.

READ ALSO: Is Germany planning mandatory vaccinations for some employees?

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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.

READ ALSO:

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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